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).
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.