The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is one of the most widespread neotropical felids but data on its distribution and population status in several countries are scarce. Here, we present estimates of density for lowland forest of eastern Ecuador. We used camera trap data and capture–recapture analyses to estimate ocelot density within a local area within Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, recognized as a globally important area for biodiversity conservation. We estimated densities for dry and wet seasons using CAPTURE and both half and full values of the mean maximum distance moved, as recommended for estimating densities. Estimated densities for the dry season were higher than during the wet season. Ocelots were captured more frequently at night than during the day and some individuals were captured more consistently in areas close to the Tiputini River.
Density estimates for ocelots in the Yasuní region are somewhat higher than in other neotropical areas but similar to other sites in the Amazon region. Based on the number of ocelots recorded in this relatively small study area, it is clear that the region is an important area for conservation. Further studies that take into account more complex estimates such as survival rates and migration, as well as differences in growth and availability of resources could provide more evidence for the importance of this region.
Photography by Ryan Lynch