JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP via Getty Images
The first albino ocelot was discovered in Colombia in the Medellin Conservation Park, illustrating the consequences of deforestation.
ANIMALS – In a conservation park in Medellin, an albino ocelot hunts fictitious prey. For scientists, the discovery of this animal must be attributed to the deforestation of the cat’s natural habitat in Colombia.
The albino ocelot was discovered a little over a year ago by residents of Amafli, a village located in the northwest of the country, in the department of Antioquia. At first, biologists in the Medellin Conservation Park, where he was hosted, only presented the find as “ very unusual”without identifying the animal species.
After months of genetic analysis, they confirmed that it was “ the world’s only recorded case of an albino ocelot”, Jorge Aubad, director of the institution, told AFP. And for the scientist, the genetic mutation of the animal informs a troubling reality.
The consequences of deforestation
Due to deforestation, populations [d’ocelots] isolate yourself”which leads to “ endogamy, reproduction between closely related members”details Jorge Aubad. “Albinism, in this case, is transmitted because we have a fragmentation problem” tropical forests where the animal species lives, the biologist adds.
According to experts, this nearly 13 kg specimen could not survive in its natural habitat due to the color of its fur, which exposes it to predators. He is also “ completely blind”.
Amalfi, where the ocelot was found, is one of the areas most affected by deforestation in northeastern Colombia, according to a report recently published by the Colombian Ministry of the Environment. Colombia lost around 1,700 square kilometers of forest in 2021. It is the third year in a row that the area of lost forest has increased.
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