Conservation of Ocelot

Conservation of Ocelot

Project Animal(s) : Ocelot
Project Category : Mammals
Project Region : South America
Project Type : Conservation
Project URL :
Project is timebound? : No

The ocelot is classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. The populations in Colombia, Argentina and outside the Amazon region in Brazil are listed as Vulnerable. However, in the latest Brazilian assessment the species was downlisted to Least Concern, even though in some states it could be considered locally as Vulnerable or even Endangered. In Mexico and in the United States, the ocelot is listed as Endangered. In the United States, in Texas, the ocelot declined dramatically. In Texas, the ocelot number is estimated at 50-80 individuals. The biggest population is thought to live in Brazil, where numbers are thought to reach over 40,000 individuals. In areas of the Amazon basin, ocelot populations seem to be stable. In Argentina, the ocelot population is estimated at 1,500 – 8,000 animals.

The ocelot has generally been considered to be tolerant to disturbed habitat. Recent studies however depict a more specialized animal operating under rather harsh environmental constraints. The number of ocelots is not known exactly but presumed to be declining across its range. The main threats for the ocelot are habitat destruction and fragmentation (mainly due to logging activitites) leading to a loss of prey base and cover. Although widespread commercial harvests for the fur trade ceased decades ago, illegal fur trade still persists and ocelots are also used in the pet trade. Moreover, especially retaliatory killing due to depredation of poultry takes place. In Texas, as well as southern Brazil, many ocelots are killed by traffic.

The protective measures taken at regional and national scale and the implementation of international trade restriction were based on scientific research on the status of the ocelot and on monitoring information. In Brazil, ocelot populations are well protected within the reserves throughout the country, especially those in Amazonia, where the species is fairly common. In the U.S. today, the ocelot is a conservation priority. The suspected isolated populations in Mexico can probably only be connected by translocations. Another important measure would be to build up corridors to assure gene flow between the different populations.

Project Agency : Cat Specialist Group

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