Something that started out of curiosity has now turned into a study: observing wild ocelots.
The year, 2013, when we started to follow Lotje (the ocelot) we had no idea that we would be able to know so much about her. It is known that in general ocelots are less familiar compared with their bigger cousins; the Jaguar. So that is when I started to observe her, out of curiosity.
This is Lotje, the one we have been observing since 2013. In general one ocelot needs about 20 square kilometer to survive. That is also their home, their territory. One that they will defend with all their might whenever possible.
This blurry picture was taken in October 2012 from Lotje at the pier. In the beginning she was seen from a distance and before you could take a clear picture, she was gone. This was also the first time we noticed that ocelots were also living in the area.
This is an aerial photo of the lodge in Kabalebo. I just lined out a piece of Lotje's territory as I was not able to take a photo of a larger area while I was sitting in the airplane.
In general male's territory overlap with the female's and chances are that they will meet during mating seasons. The first one (colored pictured) was seen between 2013 - 2015. Male ocelots often have to fight to keep their spot otherwise another male will take over. The second male (black/white picture) took over the spot from the previous male, exactly 2 months after he was not seen anymore.
Lotje was able to provide precious information about the next generation. Here you see that between 2013 and 2016 she gave birth to one ocelot. They stayed with Lotje for 6 or 7 months (as they grow so fast during that time) and after those months they will find their own home.
Here are the statistics from the wild ocelots between 2013 - 2017. These are times that they appeared at the feeding spot. Lotje comes by every year.
It takes years of patience and dedication to win someone's trust, especially with animals. Here you see 2 pictures of the same ocelot, Lotje. Picture on the left, taken in 2012, shows you how close I could get to her. Picture on the right, taken in January 2018, shows that she is comfortable with my appearance.
(Almost) 5 years later, she is now used with my presence and usually she likes to wait patiently while I am busy putting her food. Who knows what we can learn more about her in the near future.
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