While traveling with my colleagues Flavia P. Tirelli, who co-founded the Geoffroy’s Cat Working Group with the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation (SWCCF), and Tadeu de Oliveira in Brazil’s most southeastern state of Rio Grande do Sul, Flavia received notice that an injured margay was sitting on the yellow line in the middle of a road. Margays are beautiful spotted small wild cats found in Central and South America.
Since we were at least a three-hour drive away, Flavia summoned the small cat network into action. Immediately, her colleague drove to the scene. Fortunately, the margay was still alive but unable to move. The margay was loaded into a plastic pet crate and transported directly to the local university in Porto Alegre, where a veterinary doctor and her students were waiting in anticipation. A full exam began upon arrival.
Following a thorough examination, the vet team concluded there were no broken bones, and that a head strike likely caused the margay to become disoriented. Recovery meant resting in a quiet place for 10 days, after which another examination was done. The margay was placed in a large outdoor enclosure and provided live mice to catch. All went well, and the cat was recently released in the forest near the rescue location.
What’s the take-home message? Rescue and rehabilitation facilities are our first line of defense. Relationships must be established ahead of time, well before the need invariably arises. And make no mistake, the need will inevitably arise. Roles must be transparent. SWCCF’s task is to conserve small cats and their habitats, not manage individuals that cannot be released. If a small cat cannot be rehabilitated, then we rely on reputable facilities such as Margarta Zoo in Piura, Peru that can house the individual permanently.
Every individual small wild cat is important to the population. SWCCF must set the highest standard and spare no expense to save injured individuals. Everywhere SWCCF works, we support the rescue and rehabilitation centers that we depend on. It should come as no surprise that the vet team that rescued this margay is now part of the growing small cat global conservation network. For small cat conservation, the network is the solution.