Saving the Geoffroy Cat
Dr. Jim Sanderson is someone who shares our belief that the money should go to the animals and not be wasted on salaries and benefits for those who are doing the fundraising. If you contact him and say you want 100% of your donation to go to the Geoffroy Cats in the wild, that is exactly what will happen.
Dr. Jim Sanderson has been responsible for igniting a passion in local peoples for the Geoffroy Cats. He works with teams of local scientist to camera trap and gather information on these rare wild cats all around the world. He goes a step further and gets the people in the area to take pride in their natural resources so that they will help to protect these small cats that are on the brink of extinction.
Dr. Sanderson is working to establish six high priority long-term research sites in Bolivia, Borneo, Cambodia, Chile, China, and India. He also supports the efforts of alliance colleagues in Argentina, Brazil, India, Sarawak, Suriname, and Vietnam. Sustained camera photo-trapping efforts will enable him to monitor the populations of small cats and to detect changes in their population trends. Dr. Sanderson’s resourceful methods – carrying out arduous research with very limited resources – are the hallmark of a true entrepreneurial scientist.
To read more about this conservation effort go to: http://www.wildnet.org/smallcat.htm
To make a donation to help save them in captivity go to Donate page at top right.
Update from the field 1/3/04:
I hope you are having a good holiday season. I am embarrassed to report that we have only been able to solicit 140.00 for the small cats this year. (Brazilian Cats 80.00, Mexican Cats 30.00, Geoffroy Cats 30.00). We would like to forward these funds to you for the work you do with these cats. How shall we make out the check and where do you want us to send it?
I’m in Phnom Penh and on e-mail until I leave Jan 9. You can make the check out to Small Cat Conservation
Alliance and send it to my address below. Many thanks. A one-day house costs me about $30 to build. This is
basically a bamboo platform with a thatched roof suitable for holding a hammock. So the money will be
used to create a research station in Kalimantan.
Jim Sanderson, Ph.D., TEAM Research Scientist
Center for Applied Biodiversity Science
1919 M Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036-3521 USA
Tel: 202-912-1803 Fax: 202-912-0773
Big Cat Rescue’s Founder is helping to support this project and asks that you join her in supporting this important study.
Little known, small cats often get minimal to no funding. This project is about half funded currently, needing $6800 to complete it. He is also the researcher for our Andean Mountain Cat Project
Research and Conservation Project
The Geoffroy’s cat, O. geoffroyi, is one of the most widespread cats of Argentina and probably the most hunted south American small cat, even if the species has been legally protected (CITES Appendix I). Furthermore, one of the main natural habitats to which this cat is associated, the Pampas grassland, is suffering a marked alteration caused by human activities. So little is known about the species’ ecological requirements that it is presently impossible to judge the actual impact of this habitat loss and hunting. The little available data would suggest a moderate tropic opportunism. On the other hand, some preliminary data indicate a more selective habitat use than the other carnivore guild members. It has been reported that its preference for dense woodland, confirmed by the results of the only study ever carried out on its behavior, would allow ecological segregation from the Pampas cat (O. Colocolo), with whom O. geoffroyi shares most of its distribution. However, in the Pampas region, where grassland habitats dominate, the Geoffroy’s cat seems to have a wider distribution than O. colocolo. These contradictory data prove that we urgently need detailed studies on its natural history and conservation biology.
This is the first conservation biology project on the Geoffroy’s cat in Argentina, and it aims to understand its ecological niche, analyzing its food (through scat analysis), resting site and habitat (through radiotelemetry) requirements, and how they affect population abundance. We also want to understand the extent of this cat’s plasticity to habitat changes caused by human-induced alterations of the Pampas grassland.
The Campos del Tuyú Wildlife Reserve (managed by FVSA – Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina), northern Buenos Aires Province, was created to preserve one of the last pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus) populations. It covers 3,000 ha of marshes, grasslands and wood patches and is surrounded by privately-owned areas grazed by cows.
Specific Conservation Goals
Our main obstacle to the conservation of the Geoffroy’s cat is the lack of knowledge (Nowell and Jackson, 1996; Soler and Lucherini, 2000). The research efforts for all the 8 Argentinean small cats has been classified as “Low” or “Very low” by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, and only one study has been ever carried out on the ecology of this O. geoffroyi (in the southernmost part of its distribution). Furthermore, the increasing complexity of wildlife management in human-modified habitats requires integrated approaches, based on detailed behavioural and ecological studies (Martin 1998). Our goal is to understand the ecological requirements of the Geoffroy’s cat and its plasticity to human impact, as well as to start a direct conservation program through education activities, aiming to connect the local and regional aspects of this conservation issue (Fernandez-Juricic, 2000).
Anticipated Outcome/Impact of Project
Presently, the wildlife managers of the vast Pampas region are admittedly taking decisions on a very scarce data basis. Our team has been paying attention to improve the connections with regional authorities, and provide them with the quantitative information necessary to make predictions about this cat’s ecological requirements. All data will be analyzed to improve our understanding of the Geoffroy’s cat ecology and to draw up a practical conservation strategy for this species in the Pampas eco region. We plan to achieve this goal also through a strict cooperation with the other institutions involved in the newly established “Argentinean Pampas Conservation Program”. Thus we anticipate that our results will represent a remarkable contribution to the improvement of conservation policy of the Pampas region.
Finally, this study is offering a unique opportunity for an important professional improvement to the local young researchers who will participate in it (this project forms part of 2 graduate studies) as well as to a number of volunteers that are routinely involved in our Team projects.
How the Project’s Outcome will be Evaluated
The challenge of conserving wildlife in developing countries urgently needs the support of sound information and practical actions. If this conservation project is able to contribute to the designing of a conservation strategy for the Geoffroy’s cat in the Pampas grasslands, it will be considered successful. Even if the concretion of a radio-tracking study on a little-known carnivore species, the first in Argentina, could be considered, by itself, an evidence of the success of this project, in its evaluation process, we plan to take also the results of our education and dissemination activities into account.
Results to Date
Since February 2000, in collaboration with FVSA and the Field Veterinary Program of WCS, we began a radiotelemetry study of the spatial behavior of O. geoffroyi. Trapping was conducted from February 5 to 24. Twelve box-traps were placed within the forest patches. The specific trapping sites were selected on the base of previous information collected on cat marking sites (Vuillermoz and Sapoznikow, 1998). Birds, meat and canned fish were used as baits. Within a trapping area of approximately 15 km, 5 adult Geoffroy’s cats (3 females – 2 spotted and 1 melanistic, and 2 males – 1 spotted and 1 melanistic) were caught and radio collared (Lucherini et al., 2000). The radiotelemetry data have not been analyzed yet, but they suggest that the open grasslands are used more than expected and that home ranges are rather small. We also found that cats makes use of the privately-owned areas, which surrounds the Reserve and where cows graze. These first results showed that this project may offer great chances of development, but were soon followed by the failure of 2 of the transmitters. This is why we planned to carry out a new trapping campaign, expand the number of radio collared animals and extend the monitoring period.
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