Leopardus geoffroyi


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Leopardus geoffroyi
Species Authority: (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844)
Common Name(s):
English Geoffroy's Cat
Spanish Gato De Mato, Gato Montés Común
French Chat De Geoffroy
Oncifelis geoffroyi (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844)
Taxonomic Notes: Included in the genus Leopardus by Johnson et al. (2006) and Eizirik et al. (submitted). No genetic evidence of geographic subspecific partitioning was found in an analysis by Johnson et al. (1999). A zone of hybridization was found in southern Brazil where the northern extent of L. geoffroyi's range meets the southernmost extent of the range of the Oncilla, L. tigrinus (Eizirik et al. 2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Lucherini, M., de Oliveira, T. & Acosta, G.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
The Geoffroy's Cat is classified as Near Threatened because future population declines resulting from habitat conversion may result in its qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion A (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
2002 Near Threatened
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Geoffrey's cat ranges from southeastern Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina east of the Andes and southern Brazil (below ca. 30oS), Uruguay all the way to the Strait of Magellan in Chile, from sea level to 3,300 m (Oliveira 1994, Nowell and Jackson 1996, Cuellar et al. 2006, Dotta et al. 2007).
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Chile; Paraguay; Uruguay
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Although it is considered to be relatively common, its status is not well known. Heavy commercial hunting pressure from the 1960's to the late 1980's is believed to have reduced populations (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The species is considered Endangered in Chile where it occurs only in a small area in the south. In Brazil and Argentina it is considered Near Threatened, although relatively common in the pampas region (J. Pereira pers. comm. 2008), while in Bolivia it is considered the second most abundant felid, after the ocelot (Cuellar et al. 2006). Density estimates include:

Brazil 10/100 km² (Oliveira et al. in submission)
Bolivian Chaco 2-42/100 km² (Cuellar et al. 2006)
Argentina (Lihue Calel National Park) 3-26/100 km² (Pereira et al. 2006) during a drought but 139.9 +/- 35.5 per 100 km² two years later (J. Pereira pers. comm. 2008)
Chile (Torres del Paine National Park) 7-12/100 km² (W. Johnson pers. comm. in Nowell and Jackson 1996)
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Described as occurring in a wide variety of habitat types of the subtropical and temperate Neotropics, including scrubby woodland, dry forests and savannas of the Chaco, Patagonian scrub, Monte desert/semi-desert, wooded parts of the Pampas grasslands, marshlands, etc. in both pristine and disturbed areas (Oliveira 1994). It uses both open and closed habitats, but seems to be more associated with areas of denser cover in the predominately open areas of most of its range. The Geoffroy's cat is distributed throughout the pampas grasslands and arid Chaco shrub and woodlands, and up around the Salinas Grandes (alpine saline desert of north-western Argentina) to 3,300 m in the Andes (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Most of its range is arid or semi-arid (Pereira et al. 2006), but it also occurs in wetlands (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). It is not found in either the tropical or temperate rainforests. It likely has a patchy distribution in the southern grasslands, where it is more likely to occur in forest fragments and riparian vegetation (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It is sympatric throughout its range with the pampas cat (L. colocolo).

In a radiotelemetry study in wet pampas grassland of Argentina, Manfredi et al. (2006) found mean home range size from 2.5-3.4 km², with male ranges 25% larger than females. In Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, in beech forest, home ranges were larger, at 2.3-6.5 km² for two females, and 10-9-12.4 km² for two males (Johnson and Franklin 1991). In Argentina's Lihue Calel National Park, Pereira et al. (2006) found female home ranges of 2.5 km² during a drought period; a single female who had been radio-collared before the drought increased her home range by a factor of two, although no obvious differences in mean daily distance travelled were observed. Six radio-collared cats died of starvation during the drought period, when hare abundance fell from 5.6 to <0.8 per 10 km.

Manfredi et al. (2004) found diet to vary by location in Argentina, consisting primarily of small rodent, but including other locally abundant species such as birds. In Chile, rodents and hares were primarily taken (Johnson and Franklin 1991). Plains vizcachas are also prey (Branch 1995). In southern South America, where vizcachas have become extinct, introduced brown hares (Lepus europaeus) are the major prey, although densities of both hares and Geoffroy's cats were observed to decline markedly during a drought period (Pereira et al. 2006). Fish and frog remains were found in the stomachs of Geoffroy's cats from Uruguay and Brazil (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Bisceglia et al. (2007) found that small mammals were the most frequent prey of Geoffroy´s cats in Lihue Calel, representing at least the 63% of the food items throughout the year.

Geoffroy's cat is a small solitary felid (4.3 kg), with an average litter size of 1.5 kittens, and predominantly nocturnal activity pattern. It seems to be the most abundant felid of the temperate Neotropics (Oliveira and Cassaro 1995, Lucherini et al. 2006).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Large numbers of pelts were exported from South America for the international fur trade from the 1960s to 1980s, but little trade took place after 1988 and the species was upgraded to CITES Appendix I in 1992 (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Cats are still killed as pests or livestock predators, and these pelts may be seen in local illegal trade. Currently, habitat loss and fragmentation, and retaliatory killing (poultry depredation) remains as the main threats. Further research is needed on this species to understand the impact of numerous potential threats within its range.

During a health evaluation of Geoffroy´s cats (Uhart et al. 2005) at two different protected areas in Argentina (Campos del Tuyu Wildlife Reserve and Parque Nacional Lihue Calel), antibodies to infectious peritonitis, feline panleukopenia, canine distemper virus, feline callicivirus, toxoplasmosis and dirofilariasis were found in tested animals. Adult parasites recovered from necropsied animals and eggs in fresh faeces revealed the presence of various nematode families, including Ascarididae, Trichuridae, Capillariideae, Rictulariidae, Spiruridae and Ancylostomatidae; cestodes from families Taenidae and Anaplocephaliidae and oocists of Eimeriidae (Beldomenico et al. 2005). These results suggest exposure (recent or past) to common domestic carnivore diseases, and indicate a potential risk to these Geoffroy´s cats´ populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included in CITES Appendix I. The species is fully protected across its range, with hunting and trade prohibited in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs in a number of protected areas.

Citation: Lucherini, M., de Oliveira, T. & Acosta, G. 2008. Leopardus geoffroyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 26 July 2014.
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