What am I sappy cat blogging?

March 9, 2018

The smallest cat in the Americas is struggling under huge pressure as clear-cutting destroyed its habitat and farmers defend their chickens with deadly force.

The güiña wildcat of Chile is also known as the little tiger cat, little spotted cat, or Chilean cat. It’s absolutely as adorable as those names make it out to be, reaching about half of the size of a domestic cat at adulthood. It’s also listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, which shows “a high risk of endangerment in the wild” and is just one step shy of being endangered.

According to the IUCN, there are only about 10,000 individuals left in the wild. It’s got to this point because much of Chile’s tropical rainforests, which form most of the güiña’s habitat, have been chopped down for farmland in the last decades. The tiny feline is also at risk from human persecution over fears that it might hunt livestock.

However, new research led by researchers from the University of Kent, UK, shows the animal is able to survive near human settlements on agricultural land. The biggest threat it faces, the paper reports, is being squeezed out when large farms are broken down into smaller ones.

The cat is viewed in a bad light in such communities, mostly out of fear that it will kill chickens. Large, farms that practice intensive agriculture on wide, open fields do provide adequate environments for the güiña. As farmers break these entities down into smaller farms, they also switch to less intense agriculture and rely more heavily on livestock — setting the stage for a conflict with the tiny carnivores.

Image result for guina cat

Excerpted from ZME Science – full story here.

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