Small felid conservation in an endangered ecosystem in Bolivia

Paola Micaela Nogales Ascarrunz

Worldwide, the information on small felids compared to larger felids species is limited. In Bolivia, seven species of small felids are registered, and there is a possibility that the southern tiger cat Leopardus guttulus is present although is not officially registered. Official information about L. guttulus presence is important to take conservation actions and to contribute to the conservation of small felids in Bolivia. This study will take place in the Chiquitania-dry-forest, an endangered ecosystem that suffered wildfires across more than five million hectares in 2019. Since hunting is one of the major threats for small felids, we will conduct semi-structured interviews in 11 indigenous communities to collect new information about small felid hunting, including conflicts and traditional uses. The main results will generate a guidebook, including local methods to mitigate conflicts, and informative posters about sustainable alternatives, which will be explained through workshops in five main communities. Finally, we will detect the presence of L. guttulus in this area by collecting environmental DNA from artificial water holes and conducting real-time-PCR analysis. The information about the presence of L. guttulus in this area will be used as a baseline to promote its inclusion in national conservation action plans.