Leopardus braccatus

Leopardus munoai

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cat researchers are working against the clock to protect small felids from extinction.

A new taxonomy has been proposed by Nascimento et al. (2020) for what was known as the Pampas cat (Leopardus colocola). Under the new scheme, the Pampas cat is actually a complex of five species, two of which occur in Brazil. These are Leopardus braccatus and Leopardus munoai, the first one occurring in the Pantanal and Cerrado biomes, and the latter occurring only in the Pampas close to the Uruguayan border. L. colocola no longer occurs in Brazil, being restricted to Chile, west of the Andes.

Wild Cats Brazil is doing research on both species. There is a sizable population of L. braccatus in Mirador State Park, coexisting with the globally threatened northern tiger cat. An interesting fact is that almost all the individuals we recorded are melanistic. With regards to L. munoai our efforts are focused on getting the Brazilian Federal Government to recognize it as a valid species. This is key because without species designation, Brazilian legislation cannot do much to protect the species.