A team of researchers discovers a new species of bull cat in Central America

A team of researchers taking part in the Tiger Cats Conservation Initiative has published a study in the journal Scientific Reports

by Lorenzo Ciotti
SHARE
A team of researchers discovers a new species of bull cat in Central America
© @Scientific Reports

An incredible new discovery has been made in Central America, after a new species of tiger cat was identified. A team of researchers taking part in the Tiger Cats Conservation Initiative has published a study in the journal Scientific Reports.

The team analyzed ecological models, archives and recent genetic examinations of the tiger cat and originally recognized subspecies. The researchers identified it as Leopardus pardinoides. Researchers studied the geographic area in which it is distributed to assess threats.

Unfortunately, even if it has just been discovered, the tiger cat Leopardus pardinoides is already an endangered feline.

Tiger Cat© @Scientific Reports

Two species of this specimen are known, the northern tiger cat Leopardus tigrinus and the southern tiger cat Leopardus guttulus.

The results, however, showed the existence of a third species. The research highlights the urgency of key protection measures for all three species, specifically in Brazil and Colombia. "Their fate is in the hands of the authorities," the researchers said in their study.

The tiger cat habitat extends mainly from Colombia to Ecuador. It lives in the mountainous regions of Central and South America and the Andes between 2000 and 3000 meters above sea level.

Tiger Cat© @Scientific Reports

It weighs about 2.27 kg, has a long tail, short and round ears, dense fur with irregular spots.

Unlike the other two species, Leopardus pardinoides has only one pair of breasts. Large-scale agriculture, human settlements and deforestation have increasingly restricted the habitat of the three tiger cat species. Scholars speak of a reduction from the historical range to the current one equal to 3,173,402 km 2.

This species shows a strong preference for rainforest environments, and are often sighted at altitudes not usual for the margay or ocelot. They have been found in habitats at 4,500 m in Colombia, in the Andes in Ecuador, in the subtropical forest of the mountainous areas of Brazil, in the scrub environments of the Cerrado, and are typically distributed from Costa Rica to northern Argentina. Sightings have been recorded in northern Panama, but this population appears to be an anomaly in the species' range.