1996 32¢ Ocelot
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Ocelots are extremely shy animals, hunting in the dark cover of night and spending their days hidden among thick brush. In fact, they are so reclusive that even the biologists devoted to their recovery know very little about their natural habits.
Still found in the brushlands of Arizona and Texas, ocelots have long been hunted for their exquisite coats. In fact, as recently as the 1980s, European furriers paid as much as $4,000 for one ocelot skin, and markets continue to flourish in South America. Listing under the Endangered Species Act however, has made killing an ocelot a federal crime in the U.S. and hunting is no longer the threat it once was. Instead, habitat loss and fragmentation have become a primary concern. Ocelots require large, densely foliated territories in which to hunt and breed. Such land however, is often extremely fertile and therefore attractive to farmers, leaving few patches of land large enough to support a healthy population.
Conservation biologists hope to restore 250 acres of reclaimed farmland in the Rio Grande Valley, but restoration is no substitute for preserving the remaining wild habitat. Not only is it difficult to re-create a natural habitat, but the heavy brush required by the ocelot will take decades to grow.