- Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we are meeting one of the most abundant felids of South America: the Geoffroy’s cat.
The Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) lives in the Pampas, Andes, and Gran Chaco areas of South America. It is amongst the world’s smallest wildcats weighing around 4 kg (8.8 pounds). Usually, those living in the south of its range are bigger than those in the north. Geoffroy’s cat’s fur has many black spots and stripes around its neck, chest, face and tail. The background color varies between regions: from brownish-yellow in the north to grayish in the south. Melanistic forms are also common, mostly in wetland or forested areas.
The Geoffroy’s cat is secretive, solitary and mainly nocturnal and usually sleeps in trees or dense vegetation during the day. It is a very agile climber and can walk along the underside of branches. The cat is a very good swimmer and has sometimes been observed swimming in fast-flowing rivers that are 30 meters wide. The feline hunt in trees, in water and on the ground, mainly birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals helping control small wild animal populations.
The Geoffroy’s cat’s greatest threat is habitat destruction due to deforestation, and overhunting for the fur trade. It also suffers from predation by dogs and vehicle collisions. Heavy commercial hunting pressure from the 1960s to the late 1980s is believed to have reduced populations. Currently, Geoffroy’s cat is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN because it is widespread and abundant over most of its range but there are no estimates of population size. Watch the video to learn more about this species!