Why is the jaguarundi endangered?

In 2019, the main threat to the jaguarundi is habitat loss and the fact that its distribution is fragmented and in these fragmented areas the population sizes are low.

It is said that none of the conservation units (with one exception – the megareserves of the Amazon Basin) can sustain long term viable populations of jaguarundis. The long term conservation prognosis is grim but the current assessment by the IUCN Red List people is that of Least Concern. Once again I see their assessment as too optimistic.

The jaguarundi lives in Mexico and Central and South America. Although there are quite frequent sightings of this cat in the USA, specifically California, Texas and Florida. One wonders whether these are escaped ‘pets’. The cat is taken to be sold as a pet sometimes (see below).

Jaguarundi distribution

Jaguarundi distribution

In Brazil there is ‘rampant conversion’ of the jaguarundi’s habitat (Brazilian savanna) to industrial agriculture. This causes a large loss of habitat.

Also this species of small wild cat is much less abundant than was once thought. As mentioned the population sizes are small and the fragmentation of its distribution is likely to get worse.

Fragmentation of populations of a species is a problem because it means that each small population is an island. There is no cross fertilisation between these fragmented areas. If the numbers are low in each area there can be inbreeding which makes the population in that area unsustainable in the long term because of inbreeding depression (inherent ill health). There is also prey reduction.

Other less important threats to this cat’s survival are: being caught in traps set for other animals and hunting. Also there are retaliatory killings of the jaguarundi as it kills poultry. Apparently they are killed for medicinal reasons and trapped to be taken a pets.

The current population trend is: decreasing. There will be continued downward pressure on the jaguarundi’s numbers for the foreseeable future due to economic expansion and human population growth.

Jaguarundi in captivity

Do jaguarundis live in the US?

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Escaped pet jaguarundi in western Massachusetts

Jaguarundi sighting in western Massachusetts

I recently received an interesting email from John Goodnough who lives in western Massachusetts, USA. His email is immediately below, ...
Albino jaguarundi cub in Colombia

Video of albino jaguarundi rescued in Colombia where it will live in a sanctuary

Sometimes, the people of Colombia visit PoC for which I'm grateful. As I say, the people living in 86% of ...
Jaguarundi in captivity

Jaguarundi – a comprehensive and fully illustrated page

Overview: The jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) is the most common wild cat in South and Central America. It can be tamed ...

Jaguarundi range (distribution) 2022

The Jaguarundi range is marked in purple on the maps below. They are copies of the IUCN Red List map ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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