Leopardus colocolo


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Leopardus colocolo
Species Authority: (Molina, 1782)
Common Name(s):
English Pampas Cat, Chilean Pampa Cat
French Chat Des Pampas
Spanish Gato De Los Pajonales, Gato Pajero
Lynchailurus colocolo (Molina, 1782)
Oncifelis colocolo (Molina, 1782)
Taxonomic Notes: Garcia Perea (1994) proposed that this species be subdivided into 3 separate species (Lynchailurus colocolo, L. pajeros, and L. braccatus) based on morphological traits. This was provisionally followed by Wozencraft (2005). However, genetic analysis supports the existence of populations subdivision in this species, but not at the species level (Johnson et al. 1999, Eizirik et al. submitted). The genetic partitioning (Uruguay and southern Brazil; Bolivia and northern Chile; and western Argentina and central Chile: Johnson et al. 1999) is somewhat different from the divisions recognized by Garcia-Perea (1994) on the basis of morphology (central Chile; the Andes from Ecuador and south to through Argentina; and Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil). Moreover, Cossios and Angers (2007) found six highly divergent clades in genetic analysis of Andean populations (Peru, Bolivia and Argentina). Subspeciation and geographic divisions in this species requires further study. Placed in the genus Leopardus by Johnson et al. (2006) and Eizirik et al. (submitted).

A zone of hybridization between L. colocolo and L. tigrinus has been found through genetic analyses of speciemns from central Brazil (Johnson et al. 1999, 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): Pereira, J., Lucherini, M., de Oliveira, T., Eizirik, E., Acosta, G. & Leite-Pitman, R.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
The pampas cat is classified as Near Threatened because future population declines resulting from habitat conversion may result in its qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion A3 (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
2002 Near Threatened

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The pampas cat, named after Argentine grasslands, ranges throughout most of Argentina and southern Uruguay beyond into the dry forests (chaco, cerrado) of Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil, and north through the Andes mountain chain through Ecuador and possibly marginally into southwestern Colombia (Silveira 1995, Ruiz-Garcia et al. 2003, Nowell and Jackson 1996, Dotta et al. 2007). Pereira et al. (2002) found few recent records for this species in the Argentine pampas region, however. Most records (83.5%) are from a semi-arid climatic strip that enters northwestern Argentina as a continuation of the Andes mountains and expands further south towards the coastal areas by the Atlantic ocean.

In the high Andes, although it has been recorded at over 5,000 m (Nowell and Jackson 1996), most records are from lower elevations, in comparison to the similar-appearing Andean cat L. jacobita . In northern Argentina, the mean elevation for pampas cat records was 3,567 +/- 67, as compared to 4,236 +/- 140 for the Andean cat (Perovic et al., 2003).
Argentina; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Chile; Ecuador; Paraguay; Peru; Uruguay
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Silveira et al. (2005) suggest that the species’ similarity to the domestic cat in Brazil is one reason for the scarcity of records in that country, as camera trapping in Emas National Park has found them to be relatively common, although this may be a localized abundance. Average densities may range from 2-10 adults per 100 km² (T. de Oliveira pers. comm. 2008). In Brazil and Argentina the species is considered Vulnerable (Diaz and Ojeda 2000, Machado et al. 2005). Genetic analysis of pampas cats from the high Andes of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina found six highly divergent groupings; subspecific partitioning is an important research need for conservation of this species.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The pampas cat has a wide distribution outside the moist forests of South America, being associated only with more open habitats. It typically inhabits dry scrub and grassland, but can also be found in dry woodland as well as swampy wetland (Silveira 1995, Nowell and Jackson 1996, Pereira et al. 2002). Its prey includes small mammals as well as ground-dwelling birds (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Silveira et al. 2005). In the high Andes the diet is based on mountain viscacha and small rodents (Walker et al. 2007, Napolitano et al. 2008). Based on the first radio-telemetry study taking place in Brazil's Emas National Park, pampas cats are primarily diurnal wth some crepuscular and occasionally nocturnal activity. Home ranges (90%MCP) averaged 19.47 +/- 3.64 km² (Silveira et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss (to agricultural cropland) and degradation (by livestock grazing) is considered the major threat to this species throughout most of its range. Retaliatory killing for poultry depredation is also a threat, as is hunting for traditional cultural purposes in the high Andes (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007). A zone of hybridization between L. colocolo and L. tigrinus has been demonstrated by genetic analysis in central Brazil (Johnson et al. 1999, Eizirik et al. 2007). A number of deaths by road kill have been observed (Silveira et al. 2005, J. Pereira pers. comm. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix II. The species is protected by national legislation across most of its range, with hunting prohibited in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay, and hunting regulations in place in Peru (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs in a number of protected areas (13 in Argentina: Pereira et al. 2002). Research into its ecology, distribution, taxonomy, and threats is needed (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007).

Bibliography [top]

Cossios, E. D. and Angers, B. 2007. Phylogeography and conservation of small cats from the high Andes. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-20 September: Abstracts, pp. 79. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Díaz, G. B and Ojeda, R. A. (eds). 2000. Libro rojo: mamíferos amenazados de la Argentina. pp. 106 pp.. Soc. Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamíferos, Buenos Aires.

Dotta, G., Queirolo, D. and Senra, A. 2007. Distribution and conservation stuatus of small felids on the Uruguyan savanna ecoregion, southern Brazil and Uruguay. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-19 September: Abstracts, pp. 105. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Eizirik, E., Johnson, W.E. and O'Brien, S.J. Submitted. Molecular systematics and revised classification of the family Felidae (Mammalia, Carnivora). Journal of Mammalogy. [see]

Eizirik, E., Trigo, T.C. and Haag, T. 2007. Conservation genetics and molecular ecology of Neotropical felids. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-19 September: Abstracts, pp. 40-41. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Garcia-Perea, R. 1994. The pampas cat group (Genus Lynchailurus Severertzov 1858) (Carnivora: Felidae), A systematic and biogeographic review. American Museum Novitates 3096: 1-35.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Johnson, W.E., Slattery, J.P., Eizirik, E., Kim, J.H., Raymond, M.M., Bonacic, C., Cambre, R., Crawshaw, P., Nunes, A., Seuanez, H.N., Moreira, M.A.M., Seymour, K.L., Simon, F., Swanson, W. and O'Brien, S.J. 1999. Disparate phylogeographic patterns of molecular genetic variation in four closely related South American small cat species. Molecular Ecology 8: S79-S94.

Machado, A.B.M., Drummond, G.M. and Martins, C.S. 2005. Lista da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção: Incluindo as Espécies Quase Ameaçadas e Deficientes em Dados. Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Napolitano, C., Bennett, M., Johnson, W. E., O'Brien, S. J., Marquet, P. A., Barría, I., Poulin, E. and Iriarte, A. 2008. Ecological and biogeographical inferences on two sympatric and enigmatic Andean cat species using genetic identification of faecal samples. Molecular Ecology 17: 678-690.

Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. 1996. Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Pereira, J., Varela, D. and Fracassi, N. 2002. Pampas cat in Argentina: is it absent from the pampas? Cat News 36: 20-22.

Perovic, P., Walker, S. and Novaro, A. 2003. New records of the Endangered Andean mountain cat in northern Argentina. Oryx 37: 374-377.

Ruiz-Garcia, M., Payan, C. E. and Hernandez-Camacho, J. I. 2003. Possible records of Lynchailurus in south-western Colombia. Cat News 38: 37-39.

Silveira, L. 1995. Notes on the distribution and natural history of the pampas cat, Felis colocolo, in Brazil. Mammalia 59: 284-288.

Silveira, L., Jacomo, A. T. A. and Furtado, M. M. 2005. Pampas cat ecology and conservation in the Brazilian grasslands. Cat Project of the Month. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group.

Walker, R. S., Novaro, A., Perovic, P., Palacios, R., Donadio, E., Lucherini, M., Pia, M. and López, M. S. 2007. Diet of the Andean and pampas cats (Leopardus jacobita and L. colocolo) and culpeos (Lycalopex culpaeus) in high-altitude deserts of Argentina. Journal of mammalogy 88: 519-525.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Pereira, J., Lucherini, M., de Oliveira, T., Eizirik, E., Acosta, G. & Leite-Pitman, R. 2008. Leopardus colocolo. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 July 2015.
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