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Biologists have found litters of rare, wild ocelot kittens in the southern US

Look at his little spots!



Scientists have spotted two litters of ocelotkittens in conservation ranges in Texas, a sign that these rare wild cats could be poised to thrive again in the Lone Star State.

While South and Central America have healthy populations of ocelots, less than 100are believed to still live in Texas, with over 95 percent of their original habitats now cleared for farming or building, and traffic accidents a constant threat.




To get a better handle on the ocelot population, biologists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service(USFWS) used secret camera traps and GPS technology to track female ocelots across two conservation areas – the Yturria Conservation Easementand the nearby Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

“[At the easement], we detected three mums with litters, and one of those mums had twins, which is not typical and was incredibly exciting for us,” USFWS wildlife biologist Hilary Swarts told Alexandra Petri at National Geographic.


為了更好的掌握豹貓的數量,來美國魚類及野生動物管理局自(US Fish and Wildlife ServiceUSFWS)的生物學家在兩個保護區使用隱藏攝影機以及GPS 科技來追蹤母豹貓,這兩個保護區分別是 Yturria 保護區(Yturria Conservation Easement)以及鄰近的Laguna Atascosa 國家野生動物保護區(Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge


美國魚類及野生動物管理局的野生動物學家Hilary Swarts告訴國家地理雜誌的Alexandra Petri:「(簡略)我們監測三隻母豹貓以及牠們的巢,其中一隻育有一對雙胞胎,這對我們來說非常不尋常,我們很興奮。」


Credit: USFWS




To the south in the main refuge, Swarts and her colleagues discovered an actual ocelot den, the first spotted in this conservation area in nearly 20 years.

Inside the den was a three-week-old male kittenweighing 400 grams. USFWS experts gave the baby a quick health check before the mother returned, and will be keeping a close eye on him in the future.

According to the GPS collar on the kitten’s mother, this was the second den site used by the same ocelot – a fairly typical scenario, as ocelots are thought to move their dens around to evade both predators and infestations from fleas and ticks.


在主要保護區的南端,Swarts和她的同事發現一個豹貓的窩,這是近二十年來第一次在這保護區發現到的。在窩裡有一個三週大的小貓,重400 克。美國魚類及野生動物管理局的專家幫這隻小貓進行了一次快速的健檢,趁牠媽媽還沒回來之前,在未來他們也會繼續關注這隻小貓。





With five kittens now spotted, the animals could potentially be making a comeback in the area, with abundant rainfall and subsequent plant growth over recent years helping to explain the rebound.

That plant growth provides food for the rodents, rabbits, and birds that ocelots rely on as part of their diet.

“With plenty of food and water, and minimal disturbance from humans, female ocelots have all the resources they need to reproduce successfully,” says Swarts.

And steps are being taken to cut down on human disturbance, with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) installing a dozen highway underpassesearlier this year to keep the wild cats out of the traffic.

That’s more important than you might think: two years ago, road accidents were the number one cause of ocelot deathsin the United States.

When an ocelot population becomes smaller and more spread out, the animals need to travel to find mates, and that means crossing roads and interacting with humans.



Swarts 說:「豐沛的食物和水,以及最低的人為打擾,這些讓母豹貓有充足的資源可以成功生育下一代。」






Credit: USFWS




The measures seem to be working so far: four out of the seven female adult ocelots known to be in the Laguna Atascosa refuge have now been seen with kittens, and while the animals aren’t on the endangered listas far as the global picture goes, it’s fantastic (and pretty cute) to see them holding on in the southern US.

But the USFWS needs help to keep the good work going – not only from land donations like the Yturria Conservation Easement, but also from ocelot sightings reported by the public.

“What was so great with seeing the burst of kittens this year… [is that] they’re doing their job, which is to produce more ocelots,” says Swarts. “We have been making some good strides as far as reducing threats.”

Finally something to smile about in 2016.


這個方法目前看來是奏效的,Laguna Atascosa保護區中的七隻成年母豹貓中有四隻被看到有小貓,雖然豹貓不在世界瀕危名單中,但是看到牠們在美國南部復甦還是很令人開心。但是美國魚類及野生動物管理局需要幫助以保持目前的好成績,無論是Yturria保護區的土地捐贈,或是大眾對豹貓的目擊通報Swarts 說:「今年看到小貓的暴增真是太棒了,豹貓正在生育更多豹貓。我們正在得到一些好的進步,同時也減少一些威脅。」


在2016 年終於有讓人微笑的好消息了。