Conservation CATalyst, the group behind the viral El Jefe video from 2016, is in the news again. This time, they’re making headlines with a video of a rare ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in southern Arizona.
While, on a global scale, ocelots are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, in Arizona they’re endangered. Ocelots used to be more common in this southwestern state, as implied by Dr. Aletris Neils’ comments on Facebook, but for many years they’ve been missing from Arizona.
I’m not terribly familiar with the history of ocelot conservation in the United States, but this article from the Smithsonian claims that habitat loss and overhunting for the cats’ fur decimated ocelot populations in Texas. It’s possible that similar factors contributed to their extirpation (local extinction) in Arizona. However, five ocelots have been confirmed in the state in the past 10 years.
Like jaguars (Panthera onca), most experts believe that the ocelots in Arizona are coming from the Mexican state of Sonora. This means that if the U.S.’ toddler-in-chief gets his way and is able to build a 30-ft high, solid concrete wall across the entire U.S.–Mexico border, then that will be the end of ocelot and jaguar recovery in the United States.
In light of this information, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tony Davis has just published a Q&A with Dr. Aletris Neils:1 Conservation CATalyst’s executive director. The interview deals with the recent ocelot video, as well as the environmental impacts of the proposed border wall.