Felines in danger of extinction

Felines, commonly known as felines, are a particular animal group that has a wide range of distribution, from savannas to tropical forests, except only for Antarctica, Madagascar and Australia. The taxonomic group is characterized by having the quietest hunters in nature, on which their carnivorous diet depends. They are the only group with retractable claws, they can reach speeds of up to 100 km / h and some even have specific incomplete ossifications within the oral cavity that allow them to roar. Unfortunately, there are currently five species of felines in danger of extinction. 13% of the group is threatened and in danger of disappearing, 34% is vulnerable, 16% near threatened and 37% are of less concern but with decreasing trends in their communities. Analyzing these numbers we observe that less than half of the felines are out of risk of disappearing.

Tiger

The species of felidae that leads this endangered situation is the orange tiger ( Panthera tigris ) [1] made up of six subspecies , which lives in Asia, especially in India and Thailand. In these areas, urbanized developments have increased to meet industrial, commercial and tourism demands, eliminating the forests where tigers live in their wake. Likewise, their skins are in high demand, as well as their meat and bones for supposedly medicinal uses.

Three subspecies of this genus have already become extinct , so it is urgent that action be taken on the six subspecies that still exist. Unfortunately, most of the tigers that exist today are in captivity, these being an important part of the conservation strategies to recover tigers from extinction .

Borneo red cat

The Borneo red cat ( Catopuma badia ) [2] , is a felid that has been difficult to track due to the stealthy behavior of wild cats. Despite Borneo being an island with thick forests that have not yet been well studied, it has experienced strong industrialization together with agricultural practices that are not very responsible for the production of palm oil, which increases the vulnerability of forests that lack interest. and investment for ecosystem studies that protect the Borneo cat .

Iberian lynx

An exceptional example within the endangered species is the Iberian lynx ( Lynx pardinus ) [3] and [4] , which lives in the Iberian Peninsula. Due to the growth of urban areas, its populations were reduced, but thanks to government efforts in Spain, concrete conservation strategies have been created to recover the communities and even to reinsert it in Portugal, an area where it had already become extinct. Thanks to this, the population trend of this species is growing, this being the only species among the threatened felines that shows recovery of its populations.

Andean cat

Another endangered feline species is the Andean cat ( Leopardus jacobita ) [5] , which spans the rocky slopes of the Andes, from Peru to Argentina. They are threatened by hunting for cultural use and as a control to avoid the decrease of livestock, as well as by the reduction of their prey, and by the growth of the mining and fracking industry in the area. On the other hand, they are also used by local communities of Quechua and Aymara origin in rituals to promote livestock or agriculture, and have even been used as food or traditional medicine.

Flat head cat

Finally, there is the flat-headed cat ( Prionailurus planiceps ) [6] that inhabits Malaysian wetlands, ecosystems that are rapidly shrinking by overfishing and intensive agriculture. The species is threatened by urbanization, as well as timber and palm tree plantations. There is not much information on the habits of this species, which also reflects the little interest in conservation, which leads to the risk of extinction . Sometimes their skins are even used as decoration in longhouses in Malaysia.

Feline species in a vulnerable state

There are 13 species of felids in a vulnerable state [7] , that is, there are significant reductions in their populations, and with a high probability of becoming in danger of extinction. Among these species are the iconic lion ( Pan thera le o ) that inhabits the south of the African continent, as well as the cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus ) or the clouded panther of Borneo N eofelis diardi ) These vulnerable species share degraded spaces similar to threatened felines, which is why they are expected to move to this classification in the near future.

Causes of endangered and vulnerable felines

Although extinctions are caused by certain situations related to the species and the geographical area, there are some causes more frequent than others.

  • Statistically, one of the activities that most threatens felines is persecution and control , since their carnivorous habits seek food in cattle that are adjacent to their habitats, to which ranchers respond with hunting to prevent them from the number of your animals decreases. It is understandable that ranchers want to protect their livestock, but strategies are currently being developed to decrease persecution. For example, in Costa Rica, the Unit for Attention to the Conflict with Felines promoted the addition of bells to calves to scare away the felines and the protection has been increased in the livestock keeping sites, which has achieved a 96% decrease in the predation.
  • The next cause that has led felines to the danger of extinction is intentional hunting, both for sport and for trade . Today the concept of animal injustice represented by fur is widespread, but this was not the case before 1973. The international fur trade was legal before this year. For example, in the 1960s, 11,000 legal jaguar skins were calculated from Brazil, and 15,000 ocelot and tigrillo skins were recorded in Mexico. Despite the ban on hunting , it is still carried out illegally today.
  • There is also the threat of changes in land use, as in the Amazon where deforestation is done annually to create arable fields. This loss of habitat is also reflected in the construction of roads within the jungles, which fragments the spaces and interrupts the transit of the felines. The possibility of crossing these roads means the risk of death, so frequently seen by the run over of jaguars or leopards.

It is important to remember that the felidae family is made up of numerous species, among which the popular ones can be distinguished, the large cats, such as the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard, belonging to the genus Panthera . We can also easily locate domestic cats with a scientific name ( Felis catus ). However, among these well-known species are numerous wild cats that are not so well recognized, such as the manul ( Otocolobus manul ), which lives in the frozen mountains of Tibet, or the fishing cat ( Prionailurus viverrinus), with swimming skills that lives in mangroves and rivers of Indochina. These felines also suffer the consequences of human development and it is vital to make them visible to recognize the pressure that environmental deterioration exerts on millions of species.

The importance of felines

The loss that advances daily on the feline populations is irreparable given the value they have as a group. Its importance goes beyond what man perceives. They have ecosystem value, since when distributed throughout the planet, they function as indicators of conserved ecosystems . Likewise, their presence helps keep communities and food chains in balance . In case of eliminating the felines, pests or overpopulations can be generated.

In addition to this, the conservation of these mammals requires large physical spaces since, for example, a jaguar requires 30 square kilometers, so its conservation indirectly promotes the protection of hundreds of more species that live together with them, promoting more ecosystems. healthy. On the other hand, the group contains invaluable genetic information . This was generated 50 million years ago when the canids and felids separated, which 20 million years ago generated the first true feline, Pseudaelurus . Each species that approaches extinction means a setback on this evolutionary scale and a loss of genetic information.

The conservation of felines must be a priority. Government efforts and public policies developed by various countries are not enough to halt environmental deterioration. Social commitment is also needed to raise awareness about the ethical implications of putting a price on nature and destroying the habitats of hundreds of wild species.

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