Rare Ocelot Sighted in Arizona

An endangered ocelot has been caught on camera in Arizona for an astonishing second time this year.

You may have a better chance of sighting Bigfoot in Arizona’s wilds than this endangered big cat called an ocelot.

Since 2009, there have been around four ocelot sightings in the Grand Canyon State, including this rare photo taken by a remote camera trap on Wednesday.

That’s because these furtive felines prefer to doze the day away, and ambush prey—such as mice, rabbits, small deer and snakes—at night. But their elusive nature isn’t the only reason they’re tough to spot.

Documented to have occurred from Argentina to Arizona—and perhaps as far east as Arkansas and Louisiana—today ocelots in the United States are mainly found in southern Texas. Habitat loss to farming, combined with the fur and pet trades, has taken a heavy toll on ocelot populations in North America.

But do the two sightings in Arizona this year foreshadow a future comeback for the cat? Not exactly. Researchers will compare rosette spots—which, like finger prints, are unique to each individual—on the cat in the new photograph with an ocelot image taken in February to determine whether they are indeed different animals.

Meanwhile, obstacles to an ocelot rebound persist. Although the Endangered Species Act makes trapping and trading ocelots in the U.S. illegal, threats such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and climate change present new challenges to recovery.

Related: More about ocelots on the blog.

But regardless of the results of the photo comparison, wildlife officials say we have a reason to celebrate.

“This photo either demonstrates the continued presence of the ocelot we photographed in February, or that of a new animal,” Eric Gardner with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said in a statement, “either of which is good news for ocelot conservation.”

One Response to “Rare Ocelot Sighted in Arizona”

  1. Emma-Claire Wright

    What an absoltely magical thing to catch on camera. More needs to be done to rescue these animals and their habitat. More sightings obviously mean the environment is right unless of course u establish its the same cat from February however if it is surviving then that’s still great news!! The Ocelot is an amazing cat!!

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