Categories: Ocelot

Trump’s Mexico-US wall would jeopardise ocelot conservation

The news surrounding Trump’s great wall has subsided but its construction is still on the table and it is still a danger to wildlife conservation and in particular for the ocelot. This beautiful but endangered small wild cat species has been documented as living in Arizona since the 19th century but they were heavily persecuted for their coat, almost to the brink of extinction. There are now attempts to protect this wild cat species. It needs the ability to cross the border from Mexico to America.

The existing border wall. Photo: Getty Images.

A conservation organisation named CATalyst have reported seeing ocelots breeding about 30 miles south of the border in Mexico. There is a camera trap video on the ecowatch.com website and on YouTube, which shows an adult male ocelot thriving in the mountains of Arizona, a US state which borders Sonora, Mexico. This male ocelot has been named by a group of elementary school students at Manzo Elementary School in Tucson Arizona as Lil’ Jefe.

The wall would restrict the ability of Sonoran ocelots to cross between the US and Mexico in search of food and to occupy its natural habitat. My research indicates that at the Sonoran-Arizona border there is largely a vehicle fence with some additional fencing currently in place. The vehicle fence, at least, allows the passage of ocelots through it. I also understand that Trump wants to construct approximately 509 miles of new border wall. Of this 57 miles of replacement barrier and 9 miles of new secondary barrier has been constructed over 66 miles. Currently, as I understand it as well, no new wall has yet been completed. This despite the fact that there has been emergency funding released in the sum of US$9.8 billion.

Ocelot in Sonora just south of Arizona. Screnshot from video which is a camera trap video.

The current thinking about the wall from the Trump administration is that although initially he wanted to build a wall along the entire border which is 2,000 miles long, his current thinking is that nature’s barrier such as mountains and rivers will present a sufficient barrier to stop illegal immigration at the border and the wall will cover the rest, about half the distance.

I don’t know to what extent the Trump administration has given consideration to wildlife conservation. I mention the ocelot, an endangered species. However, the wall, if constructive, would have a negative conservation impact on 93 threatened and endangered species in total. It would also affect the jaguar which is incredibly rare in this part of the world and there were plans to re-wild the Jaguar in a proposed jaguar reserve on the border between Arizona and Sonora.

My distinct impression is that President Trump does not have a great regard for wildlife conservation in America and in general. There are numerous facts to support this. His sons are trophy hunters for instance. Wildlife conservation gets in the way of business and business expansion and we know that Trump depends upon proving that he can expand the economy in order to demonstrate to the world that he is a successful American president. I don’t know how much of a battle is going on in the federal government regarding conservation issues in respect of this wall. I just know that Americans owe the ocelot the chance to survive in their country bearing in mind the catastrophic persecution of this small wild cat species to make coats from its beautiful skin during the early part of the 20th century. U.S. Customs figures from the 1960s show that the ocelot dominated the US fur market reaching a high of about 140, 000 skins in 1970. It takes an average of 12.9 start skins to make a fur coat.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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