Concerned about an observation

Yesterday while browsing the site I stumbled upon an observation of a wildcat cub. I will not specify the species or link the observation for privacy reasons, but if you’re a staff member or curator and would like to do something about it, please send me a direct message.

The reason why I’m concerned about it is because the last image depicts a man holding the cub a little too tightly. That by itself is not a big deal, but after sharing the observation with other naturalists, one of them pointed out that the location is inside an airport. A red flag for me.

I guess this could be cleared up by adding context - How did they find the Feline, what are they going to do with it, etc. but all the description says is “Just born a week ago.”, which leads to me assuming that the observer or someone they know saw the Feline being born and have now captured it, which is why another naturalist marked it as captive. Worst case scenario this is a case of animal trafficking.

A recent post discuss whether it’s okay to post observations of animals that one has hunted, and under site guidelines they are allowed. I don’t have a problem with that and in fact I understand that hunting is part of human nature, as well as a good method of population control for species whose predators are extinct or scarce in the area. But when it comes to animal cruelty and trafficking, I feel there should be rules. As naturalists we engage in conservation by recording new populations, monitoring already existing ones, and doing an effort to keep fragile populations safe. which is why believe taking a cub from its family and habitat is against the naturalist spirit.

Of course this could all be my imagination, but whether it is animal trafficking or not, my point still stands.


Im not a staff member, but I totally understand your concern. Is it possible that the cub was a captive bred animal? Or perhaps a rescue? Maybe you can check the user’s other observations, see if maybe they hint at anything like that, or if maybe there is more evidence to be concerned about. Sadly there are many places in the world where wild animals are bred for their cubs to be shown around as “entertainment” (think of circuses or roadside zoos, as I believe they are called).
Personally I find it hard to believe that if anyone is involved in an animal trafficking ring or something like that, that they would choose to post it in a web such as this. It seems ilogical if they know they can get in trouble for it.
Regardless, I hope some staff member can help out, but I really do wish for it to be just a misunderstanding.


Born a week ago … should either still be with its mother.
Or if the mother is dead (or killed), the baby should be in rehab / veterinary care.

You can also try - rightclick by image in Google - and see if it is maybe a scraped photo, uploaded for ‘fun’. Which would be against iNat rules.

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I forgot to add, the user has 1.6k observations and most seem fairly normal. My first thought was that the observer works at a wildlife sanctuary or had rescued the cub, but his biography is empty.

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Just did a search, the image is not on any other site, also the face of the person holding the Feline matches with his profile picture.

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Can you ask your local nature conservation to investigate?

Wish I could, but the observation is from Central America, and I live in New Jersey. I could contact the conservation organization of the country where the cat was found, but I would rather wait until we decide if this should be reported or no. Even if we report it, the observation’s date is 2017, so I’m not sure how much they can help.

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Ideally such pictures should be kept and publicly labelled and prevented from deletion, as an indicator of inappropriate behaviour, if this is demonstrated.
Better to shine the light on it as they say.


You give an awful lot of information here if you say you’re concerned about their privacy. If you do have a real concern, please email


Observations are public and I can’t stop anyone from specifically searching for the observation. I’m being vague because if my post was “Naturalist123 from Country submitted a suspicious observation of Felis catus” that would be witch-hunting. I might consider sending an email but I wanted to know people’s thoughts.

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Report it to the conservation organization in that country and let them determine if further action needs to be taken.

They probably know the local laws, likelihood of enforcement, resources that can be spared, whom exactly to contact (in multiple appropriate government agencies or departments), etc, better than anyone on the forum is likely to.


Yeah, it took me about two minutes to find the observation in question.

@imacuriousjuan if you’re concerned about a specific observation, you should contact the observer themself to ask for clarification, and/or contact staff and relevant authorities to discuss it. Vague posting in the forum doesn’t really achieve anything.


By making it public you’re inviting people to search. Please be responsible and contact either inaturalist staff or local authorities, if you think you have cause for that. The forum is not the place.


I’d say contact the user and ask what the circumstances surrounding the photo are. None of us are operating with all of the facts here. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, please email and we can contact them.


Update: The user has contacted me and cleared up the situation.
The feline was found by a group of biologists who are in charge of protecting the fauna in the area. The mother was not found so they took the feline to the conservation entity and before that the user took pictures with the cat.

I apologize for any trouble this has caused. I will not remove the post but if the staff deems it necessary, I will not mind it.


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