Although researchers have long thought that hunting and deforestation are the main reason for güiña wildcats’ declination over last couple of years, a new study by scientists at the University of Kent has revealed that habitat fragmentation is the main reason behind the species’ potential threat of extinction.
Back in 1996, International Union for Conservation of Nature listed güiña as vulnerable as there are less than 10,000 members living in Chili. As the cats are responsible for attacks on livestock, researchers long assumed that killings and habitat destruction are the main reason behind the species’ current state.
However, the new research which was completed by data from camera trap and remote-sensing technologies as well as surveys, has revealed that the güiña wildcats are resilient to deforestation. While large farms have provided shelter for the species for a long time, recent breakups of larger farms into smaller farms is the main threat to the species.
In a recently published news release, Nicolas Galvez said, “Land subdivision and fragmentation have a far bigger impact on güiña survival. This is because there is a higher risk of human interaction and persecution in areas where there are more farms, a greater pressure on natural resources through increased timber extraction and livestock grazing, and even competition for food from domestic animals kept as pets.”