The Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission (GWCMC) has noted a recent rise in the sightings of and attacks by wildcats in communities across Guyana. In this regard, the Commission wishes to advise members of the public of the following in the event a sighting or an attack takes place.
Here are some important points to consider:
1) The sightings of wildcats in communities are due to a number of factors including: expansion of human settlements into their natural habitat, abandoned/overgrown land, older animals looking for and having access to easy prey through irresponsible animal husbandry and unsanitary environments. However, it should be noted that it is unlikely for a wildcat to attack any human being unless it feels threatened.
2) Trapping or relocation of cats is not advocated since these cats are territorial and removing one from an area would open room for another to inhabit the same area. To decide on the best course of action for a particular area, the Commission would have to do an assessment and then in consultation with the Community decide on the best way forward. If trapping/relocation has to take place, it should be done with the authorisation of the Commission.
Here are some steps you can take to minimize wildcats’ attacks:
1) Place dogs in kennels and other animals in enclosures
2) Be vigilant with livestock, e.g., track the pregnancy of animals and plan for the birth of their young.
3) Pay close attention to young calves from the time they are born to the time they are two (2) years old.
4) Urge children to be vigilant
5) During direct confrontation with big cats, do not turn your back or run. Make and maintain eye contact and create as much noise as you can.
6) Keep your surroundings clean
7) Reduce hunting especially for animal species that are the prey to big cats
8)Do not kill wild animals unless human life is in direct danger.
9) Install flashing lights on pens/ enclosures
In cases of wildcat attacks, residents are urged to contact the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission promptly. Further, if someone is in direct danger and has no choice but to kill the cat, a report should be made to the nearest police station or to the Commission.
In Guyana, there are six (6) species of wildcats: jaguar, ocelot, puma, oncilla, jaguarundi, and margay. Section 4 (7) of the Wildlife Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use Regulations (2019) all wildcats are protected and it is an offence to collect, hold in captivity, kill, hunt, or otherwise molest a protected species.