Tigrillo Lanudo – Wooly Tiger-cat, almost extinct, found in hills above Bogota

TigcolorTigrillo Lanudo – Wooly Tiger-cat, almost extinct, found in hills above Bogota.

Fantastic news!

The Tigrillo Lanudo (wooly tiger-cat) has been found in the hills in the north eastern part of Bogota, according to an article in El Espectador on August 3, 2015.

I have a special attachment to a certain Tigrillo, named “Tica”, that was my very first pet. Born in Bogota to a flight attendant mother and geologist father, exotic pets wouldn’t have surprised any of our family members back in the EEUU. Therefore, this is my interpretation and translation of a story and an issue that is close to my heart.

Photo above: Flickr/MarcioMotta

The discovery of the Tigrillo lanudo in the hills above Bogota is especially important to me because my father and his work group, who were geologists for Integrol petroleum, Colombia, in the early 1950s, had a tigrillo for a pet. I always felt sad that the kitten had been taken from it’s mother and hoped that they had enough sense to return it to the jungle to live a normal life. I have since been interested in volunteering for an organization that monitors and helps to save these beautiful wildcats. And now, I have found it: ProCAT Colombia.

(Article website: http://elespectador.com/noticias/bogota/asi-encontraron-al-tigrillo-lanudo-bogota-articulo-576403)

My translation of the article:

Some type of nocturnal hunting animal was discovered by a neighbor in the residential área of Bosques de Torca, a Northern suburb of Bogota, when some chickens and other corral birds disappeared near the farm house. The man reporting the story knew something about the local fauna, and made note that is seemed there were some Tigrillos in the area and contacted investigators at ProCAT Colombia, an entity dedicated to investigation and conservation of ecosystems and species.

Photos from El Espectador article by Flickr/Marcio Motta, and ProCAT ColombiaPhoto above courtesy of ProCAT Colombia.

The story was told to Mauricio Vela Vargas, one of the investigators of the ProCAT organization. He knew that this neighborhood was a forest zone, partially in the Andean forest, where wild species could possibly exist.

ProCAT staff presented a proposal to the local inhabitants who were encouraged to invite neighbors, and other groups, like La Floresta de Sabana to join in the effort to track and monitor possible Tigrillo sightings. ProCAT got support from two universities – Mississippi and Arizona – and kicked off the search as part of the project Bogota Biodiversia. Over two months they installed camera traps at the base of trees where there were footprints and other signs of small animals passing through.

At the end of 6 months, they removed the cameras, and after reviewing thousands of photographs, they found what they were hoping for: records of a mamal called the “Tigrillo Lanudo” , or wooly small tiger, Colombia’s smallest feline. Previously,  there had been no data collected or reported of its presence in the hills of Bogota.

While extemely elusive and shy, this particular species of “tiger cat”  has been traced from Costa Rica to the Amazon jungle of Brazil. After this shocking discovery, ProCAT focused intensive interest in this particular mamal because it appears that the ones sighted near Bogota may be of a different species than those in other locations, including Brazil. In order to know for sure, however, they will need to to do a genetic analysis.

Tigrillo                     IMG_1155

Photos from my family album: My dad holding the Integrol petroleum company’s camp mascot — a Tigrillo — in 1952, somewhere in the Colombian outback.

Another challenge for scientists is to obtain the best quality of data on the animal. This species of feline is classified by scientists as a species with deficient data.

“So we are generating this information in order to know what it eats, how it moves, what are their patterns of activity both day and night for publication,” said one of the investigators.

The projectBogota Biodiversiahas achieved identification of other species like the common fox, squirrels, rabbits and serpents.

ProCat members say that their idea is to leave a constant documentary of what is happening with wild fauna in Bogota. And for this they hope to implement strategies similar to which have been initiated in urban zones like Central Park. These interventions take place over a weekend or a couple of days, in which technologists and investigators invite the community to learn to monitor the flora and fauna of their area.

The goal is “Acercar” – To move closer or approach local residents to scientific work.

“In order to have a certain quality of life, we have to conserve the hills,” said Vela. “They serve as the production of oxygen and as the frontier of water. There are many species that the people believe don’t exist but within a kilometer, we have Tigrillos and species we never would have imagined.”

“This type of knowledge, other than to generate scientific data, also permits citizens interested in conservation and biodiversity to approach these scientific fields that are sometimes distant and unobtinable. The monitoring project is also to show the people that biology topics are not strange or unusual to pursue: they won’t make you want to live in the forest tied to a tree, but that this type of collaboration can summon the whole population and supply them with concrete actions that can lead to preservation of our natural resources and prevention of species extinction. It is a subject, that we — as a big part of the food chain — should be concerned about.”


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