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Research by conservationists at the University of Kent has found that habitat fragmentation, and the subdivision of large farms into smaller ones, are the biggest threats facing the güiña wildcat in Chile.
This forest living cat is surprisingly tolerant to deforestation and direct killing by people as retaliation for lost livestock (poultry) is not common, according to findings published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Güiña - Decline - Years - Population - Individuals
The güiña has been in decline for many years, with its population estimated to be fewer than 10,000 individuals, and it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996.
The güiña has a reputation for attacking livestock and, therefore, is perceived negatively by rural inhabitants in the region. As a result, it had been assumed that a major threat to the future of the güiña was human persecution, coupled with extensive farming and logging that has seen its habitat reduced by almost 70% since 1970.
Series - Questionnaires - Camera - Trap - Data
However, through a series of questionnaires, camera trap data and remote-sensed images the researchers, led by Nicolas Galvez studying at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), found that the güiña is remarkably adaptable to forest loss.
In particular the team found that large, intensive agricultural areas are actually well suited for the güiña and should not be dismissed as poor quality habitat. This is because there are often unfarmed areas that provide refuge, food resources and suitable conditions for rearing young.
Dr - Nicolas - Galvez - Lecturer - Pontificia
Dr. Nicolas Galvez, now a lecturer at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, commented: "Land subdivision and fragmentation have a far bigger impact on güiña survival. This is because there is a higher risk of human interaction and...
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