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The melanic woolly tiger was released in the Alto de San Miguel Regional Protective Forest Reserve, located in the municipality of Caldas (Antioquia), the feline of the speciesLeopardus tigrinus, was able to return to its habitat after 6 months of medical and biological care in charge of the agreement between the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley, Corantioquia and the CES University.

The juvenile tiger was recovered when it was just one month old in November 2019, when it was found in a rural area of the municipality of Montebello, in southwestern Antioquia, apparently abandoned in a recently harvested coffee plantation.

Faced with the impossibility of reuniting her with her mother, the cub was taken to the Corantioquia Wildlife Paso Home, where she was cared for by veterinarians, zootechnicians and biologists who completed her upbringing, assisting her feeding and medical needs.

There it was determined that the tigilla had melanism, a genetic condition in which the coat is black and not yellow, as is normal in its species. This mutation aroused interest in the scientific community and blood, hair and feces samples were taken that rest in the genetic bank of the Biological Collections of the CES University (CBUCES) and a blood sample that was sent to the Collection of Genetic Resources from the Alexander Von Humboldt Institute. In the latter, he will be part of a genomics study focused on the conservation of this species and the objective of understanding how this genetic alteration can help it in its ability to adapt to the environment.

Once it began to hunt live prey, the tiger was transferred to special facilities for its readaptation at the Veterinary and Zootechnical Center (CVZ) of the CES University, where its abilities to hunt different types of prey, take refuge and move with skill, recognize their predators and fear the human being.

Because of her positive response, which was always elusive and aggressive, and her growth and development corresponding to a juvenile tiger, the professionals determined that she was ready to continue her life in freedom.

Released in protected area

In order to locate the animal in a place close to where it was found, and where it was far from hunters and human intervention, it was taken to the Alto de San Miguel Regional Protective Forest Reserve, which has an area of 1,622.22 hectares.

This reserve, guarded by the Mayor's Office of Medellín, is recognized for being the source of several of the main rivers in the region, among which the Medellín - Aburrá River stands out, as well as for hosting a great biological diversity, which represents 16% of the species reported for Colombia, and generate ecosystem services such as climate and water regulation.

The conservation work of the reserve by the Municipal Administration, contributes to the species that inhabit there remain over time, thus being an ideal habitat for the survival of the feline. In addition, the south west of the reserve borders Montebello, the municipality where it was recovered.

The woolly tigrillo, the most threatened feline in Colombia

HeLeopardus tigrinusIt is one of the 6 species of felines that inhabit the country and is in the category Vulnerable to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), since it has a distribution restricted to moors and cloud forests, habitats threatened by the intervention of man, and also suffers from hunting and illegal pet ownership.

This animal is nocturnal and solitary, and hunts mainly mammals, birds, and small reptiles. It can live up to 11 years in the wild: females have between 2 and 3 young per litter, which they suckle up to three months of age.

Between 2019 and 2020 Corantioquia has received 16 wild cats, of which 8 are woolly tigrillos. For its part, the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley has received 13 felines, 4 of them of the released species. The agreement of these entities with the CES University has released, in that same period of time, 6 wild cats, 3 of them of the speciesLeopardus tigrinus.

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