Saturday, 17 January 2015

Gato gris

In the days when I lived in Bolivia I had many friends among the ornithologists and conservationists who work at Armonía, which is the vibrant and dynamic Bolivian partner of American Bird Conservancy, BirdLife International, Rainforest Trust and World Land Trust. Yesterday I heard from Bennett Hennessey, executive director of Armonía, who sent me this short video of a jaguarundi, known locally as gato gris. It was taken by a camera trap on the superb Barba Azul Nature Reserve which Armonía and its partners have established on 11,555 acres of the Llanos de Moxos for the critically endangered endemic blue-throated macaw and much other wildlife.

The fabulous Llanos de Moxos, an endemic ecoregion in the north of Bolivia, are comparable in importance to the Pantanal and are composed of seasonally flooded savannahs, palm swamps of Copernicia alba, riverine gallery forests, large lakes, dry cerrado savannahs and, at their edges, Amazonian and Chiquitano forests. The region is home to many species of cat. At the apex is the powerful jaguar, which I hope we will meet much later in the year in Brazil. Next in size is the slender, elegant puma, for which we shall be searching in southern Chile. Among the small cats, the varied habitats of the region are home to ocelots, margays, oncillas, pampas cats and jaguarundis.

Sadly all of these species have a history of persecution by humans, for their pelts and for their impact, real or imagined, on livestock and poultry. To the east, in the extensive forests of the Provincia Velasco in the Departamento de Santa Cruz, the jaguarundi is common; while I lived there I saw it far more frequently than any other cat. However, Bennett reports that, under Armonía's stewardship, many mammals are now recolonising the Barba Azul Nature Reserve and this footage represents the first record there of a jaguarundi. I hope it is the first of many cats he and his colleagues capture on film and, with nostalgia for my Bolivian days, I thank them for taking care of so precious a place and its wildlife.

Jaguarundi filmed on Armonía's Barba Azul Nature Reserve
in the Llanos de Moxos, Bolivia. Copyright Armonía,
reproduced with permission.

Armonía is fundraising to buy the adjacent ranch and more than double the size of the reserve. If you would like to help it is easy to make a donation through the World Land Trust.


  1. What a beautiful animal.
    Thanks for posting; I learn new things every day!

  2. Me too :) A pleasure to have you along for the adventure Tim.