Buenos Aires – Ten years after the species was thought to have disappeared in Argentina, an ocelot was sighted in the northeastern province of Corrientes, the Conservation Land Trust said.
The group cooperates with the provincial government of Corrientes to restore fauna and flora in Esteros del Ibera, an expanse of wetlands including San Alonso island, where the ocelot was caught on film in December.
Researchers from the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research's Sub-Tropical Biology Institute confirmed the animal seen in images captured by motion-activated cameras was an ocelot.
"The ocelot is a wild, mid-size feline ... whose original range of distribution extended from the southern U.S. to central Argentina," Sebastian di Martino, coordinator of Conservation Land Trust's species-reintroduction program, told EFE.
The creature is roughly twice the size of a domestic cat.
In the past, Di Martino said, ocelots were sought after for their fur, used to make coats.
Another factor contributing to the disappearance of the ocelot in Argentina was destruction of their habitat, he said.
Researchers, who found the ocelot by chance while monitoring giant anteaters successfully reintroduced to Ibera, hope that the cat caught on camera is not the only one in the area.
"We hope it is not just one individual, and that there may be others enabling the species to reproduce in that area instead of being just the last ocelot remaining from an extinct population," Di Martino said.