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Pampascat or Colocolo (oncifelis colocolo)

Much of the reproductive biology of the pampas cat is unknown. Gestation is 80 – 85 days, and litters are said to contain one to three kittens. In captivity, the breeding period appears to be restricted to the months between April and July. They have lived over 16 years in captivity. Unlike some of the other small felids they are reputedly aggressive and not responsive to taming.

Pampas cats are widely distributed and tolerant of altered habitat. International trade in their pelts ceased in 1987. Because of the large range of these cats, their status varies from endangered in Peru, rare in Paraguay and status unknown in Brazil. Much of the pampas of Argentina has been turned into agricultural land and thus their habitat and prey species in this area have been much reduced. Hunting is regulated in Peru, but Brazil and Ecuador have no legal protection for these cats. Hunting is prohibited in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay. Their population status is essentially unknown, and CITES has placed them on Appendix II. Much more research must be done before a clear picture of their status can be formed.

These cats are thought to be mainly terrestrial but will climb trees if pursued. They are thought to hunt small, nocturnal mammals, ground nesting birds such as penguins and their eggs, lizards and large insects. Goat ranchers have reported this little cat kills adult goats, and they are known to raid domestic chicken houses.

Much of the reproductive biology of the pampas cat is unknown. Gestation is 80 – 85 days, and litters are said to contain one to three kittens. In captivity, the breeding period appears to be restricted to the months between April and July. They have lived over 16 years in captivity. Unlike some of the other small felids they are reputedly aggressive and not responsive to taming.

Pampas cats are yet another small felid species that have never been studied in the wild. This lack of knowledge makes it very difficult to develop an effective management plan to protect them. They occur through a wide range of habitats, and the variable colours of their pelage reflect these changes. Three subspecies with distinctive coat patterns and isolated ranges have been proposed as full species, and genetic studies are underway to determine this differentiation.

Pampas cats look like heavy set domestic cats, and the fur can vary from thick and soft in colder areas to thin and straw-like in warmer climates. The colour can vary from yellowish-white and greyish-yellow to brown, grey brown, silvery grey and light grey. Underparts are whitish or cream, and marked with brown or black spots. There can be red grey spots or streaks on the pelage, or the coat can be almost unmarked except for brown bands on the legs and tail. There are long, mane-like guard hairs on the back up to seven cm long, that they erect when frightened or nervous. Their head is broad with a short muzzle, and relatively large, amber eyes. The ears are somewhat pointed, and are grey black on the backs with a silvery white central spot. The legs are short and stout, marked with brown or black bars and spots. Their tail is fairly short and bushy, sometimes marked with indistinct rings.

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Borneo Bay Cat (Pardofelis Badia)

One of the world’s least-known and most endangered wild cats, the bay cat, has been photographed by Panthera grantees Jedediah Brodie (Universiti Malaysia Sabah/ University of British Columbia) and Anthony Giordano (S.P.E.C.I.E.S/Texas Tech University). Their photograph is the first record of this very elusive cat in the Borneo highlands, at 1460 meters (approximately 4,800 feet).

The records add to our very limited knowledge of the species, which was photographed alive for the first time only in 1998 and where most previous records are from dense lowland forest under 800 meters (approximately 2,600 feet).

Borneo’s bay cat is so elusive that it took over a century before researchers got a chance to study a live one in detail. Covered in striking, rust-red fur with white under the tail and face stripes, this cat was officially named in 1874 on the basis of a skull and torn skin sent to England by the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Naturalists didn’t have a chance to study a live one until a bay cat was captured in 1992, and the cat remains so difficult to find that researchers know very little about how this secretive cat actually lives. The fact that the cat is so difficult to find is all the more frustrating because conservationists list the felid as endangered. The deforestation of Borneo may wipe out the bay cat before scientists get a chance to find out more about it.

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