Kodkod Conservation in the Valdivian Forest
See link for this video at base of page
This article is based on one of a similar title by Maximiliano A Sepulveda, A Eguren and E.A. Silva-Rodriguez, published in the July/August edition of the Feline Conservation Federation magazine.
I am interested in wildcat conservation. I see more destruction than conservation, however. In this case the destruction is of the Valdivian Temperate forest which is "being rapidly replaced by agricultural lands..." All over the planet we are destroying forest and the wildlife in it. This hurts. But it is the way of the world, driven as it is by commerce, human population growth and not quality of life.
The kodkod is the smallest wildcat in South America. The researchers say that it "has the narrowest geographic distribution among living cats". I am not sure what that means. It must of course mean the wildcats and the word "narrow" probably refers to the long stretch of land that is their range in Chile. You can see that on the map I built on this page: Kodkod.
The kodkod is also killed by farmers because the cat treats their poultry as prey (as you would expect). Why don't the farmers protect their livestock more efficiently? That might allow the cat to live in harmony with the human. Perhaps cost is the problem - it usually is about money.
They say that the key to the conservation of the kodkod is finding ways for us to live in harmony with it. Where people are forced to interact with the wild cats, which is increasingly the case, the cat always suffers, of course. The encroachment of people onto wildcat ranges and habitat is the greatest threat to all the wildcats. We are yet to seriously think about how to deal with that on a world wide scale.
The researchers based their study site in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve (VCR). This is the largest protected area in the coastal range of Chile. They will use camera traps and radiotelemetry (tracking cats through the use of radio collars). These methods allow them to study how the kodkod deals with human activity - plantations and human presence.
In addition the study will investigate the attitudes and thoughts of local people in relation to the kodkod. The idea behind this is to get their cooperation in its conservation. My thoughts immediately go to the Snow Leopard Trust's work in preserving the snow leopard. They have very much focused on novel ways to include local people in the cat's conservation. This is wise as without their help and understanding effective conservation will not happen.
I also feel that big business must be involved. The local people are important but often it is big business that drives human activity at a local level. We must force big business to conduct their businesses in a way that allows them to make a profit and satisfy their shareholders while preserving the planet.
This is a three year study and I for one wish them the best of luck. Some of the funding for the study comes from the Feline Conservation Federation conservation grants committee. Well done FCF.
See video on wildcat paintings (opens in a new tab or window).