New cat species discovered in Brazil

| November 29, 2013 | Reply

The number of known cat species has changed over the years. Today this is mostly due to advances in genetics when a known species in split in two or more new species. For example, this has happened with the Clouded Leopard that has been split into two species with the one living on Borneo and Sumatra now called the Sunda clouded leopard ( Neofelis diardi).

In Brazil scientists discovered what some have already expected: That the Tigrina (Leopardus tigrinus, also known as the Oncilla) are actually two species. The new species Leopardus guttulus is found in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.

This makes the conservation status of both species worse as they occupy a smaller range as previously thought. The new species in the Atlantic Forest is particularly vulnerable because most of that forest has already been destroyed.

Is is important that more research on the distribution, abundance and ecology of both species is done and immediate conservation efforts are put in place. This is of course not easy for several reasons:

  • Habitat destruction is common in the Neotropics.
  • Small carnivores, particularly nocturnal ones are hard to study.
  • Small cats don’t have the same lobby and support as big species like Jaguars.
  • There is considerably less money available for research and conservation of small cat species compared to bigger ones.

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More information can be found here:
Scientists discover new cat species roaming Brazil

Category: cats, research

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