Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Felids were first domesticated in Egypt between 4,000 and 7,000 years ago. Historically, cat pelts served as a symbol of status and power, a trend that continues to this day. In Africa, felids are often hunted for sport (i.e., trophies) and retaliatory killings by livestock farmers are not uncommon. In addition to their pelts, felids are desired for their claws and teeth. Traditional medicines may incorporate felid by-products, although their efficacy is unproven. Although international trade of wild felids and their by-products is illegal, domestic trade continues in some countries. In the ecotourism industry large cats have significant economic value in Africa and India and are sought out by tourists on both national and private reserves. Small cats primarily prey on rodents, hares, and rabbits, which helps control pest populations throughout much of their range. Large cats commonly prey on large herbivores, which reduces competition between livestock and native ungulates.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; controls pest population