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Northern tiger cat (Leopardus tigrinus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 172516360

Ecology and conservation of the northern tiger cat Leopardus tigrinus in Furna Feia National Park, Brazilian semiarid Caatinga

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 172516360) - Northern tiger cat - Awarded $9,532 on January 02, 2018

This project aims to define population status, occurrence predictors, and human perceptions of the Vulnerable northern tiger cat and another sympatric felid (Puma yagouaroundi) in a National Park of the Caatinga drylands, generating subsidies for long-term population monitoring and positive human-cat relationship.

The northern tiger cat (Leopardus tigrinus) is one of the most threatened and least known neotropical cats. According to the IUCN this species is classified as Vulnerable and included in the CITES’ Appendix I. The retaliatory killing of this cat due to depredation of poultry, roadkilling, and especially the fragmentation and habitat loss are its main threats. In Brazil, L. tigrinus occurs mainly outside protected areas of Caatinga drylands, one of the most degraded and less protected ecoregions in the country. For these reasons, L. tigrinus has the most critical status of all Brazilian wild cats and is categorized as an Endangered species (EN), according to the Brazil Red Book of Threatened Species of Fauna. Moreover, a recent publication suggests that L. tigrinus populations from northeastern Brazil are a different species (Leopardus emiliae). As the only Brazilian endemic cat, very little is known on its status and natural history. Similarly, because of its allusive behavior and low population densities, little is known about the Jaguarundi, Puma yagouaroundi (Vulnerable [Brazil], CITES’ Apendix I), especially in northeastern Brazil. Establishing these felids status in the few existing strictly protected areas of the Caatinga should be a priority for conservation strategies.

Created in 2012, the Furna Feia National Park (FFNP) is the first and only national park of the state of Rio Grande do Norte in northeastern Brazil. Located in the west side of the state, within the municipalities of Baraúna and Mossoró (05 ° 11 '17 "S, 37 ° 20 '39 "O), the national park, of 8517.63 ha, protects important portions of Caatinga vegetation in the state. Moreover, the park contains an important speleological heritage including archaeological sites. The Caatinga (Brazilian dry forest) is considered one of the world's 37 wilderness areas; however, strictly protected areas cover less than 2% of the Caatinga, while more than 45% of its original coverage has been lost. The overexploitation of the resources of this semi-arid region, inhabited by 23 million people, threatens the presence of large and small felids through activities such as extensive livestock, firewood deforestation, and hunting. 

Project document