Ocelots are relatively small wild cats with a similar appearance to a house cat. They have similar patterns to a jaguar or leopard, and this species is sometimes known as a dwarf leopard. This species is found throughout much of the northern portions of South American and throughout Central America. They are also sometimes found as far north as Arizona, but Texas is considered to be the last of the permanent populations in the United States. The ocelot was once listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but the population has rebounded that it is now listed as “least concern”. Despite this, the ocelot is still listed as an endangered species by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Let’s find out why these beautiful animals are sometimes considered to be an endangered species.
Why are ocelots endangered?
The unique and beautiful coat of the ocelot was once a prized possession in the fur trade. This meant that over 100,000 ocelots were killed for their fur alone. This led to the “vulnerable” classification in 1972 and a number of restrictions were put in place to stop the trade of these animals. As the restrictions came into force the numbers rebounded and the species is now considered to be stable. Illegal poaching does still exist and this is something that remains a threat to this species.
Did you know?
The ocelot is under threat in certain regions such as the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Here ocelots are in danger of extinction due to habitat destruction and illegal poaching. The population of this animal within the United States is also in decline. It was estimated that 80-120 ocelots were found in Texas in 1995, but there are thought to be less than 40 today. Most of the ocelot deaths in this region are caused by collisions with vehicles.