International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Andean Cat Alliance Newsletter

Reprinted with permission of the Andean Cat Alliance, a group of professionals from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru working to develop coordinated actions for the conservation of the Andean cat and its habitat.

Andean cats show up in photos and paintings in Lauca National Park, Chile

By Agustin Iriarte, Rodrigo Villalobos and Nicolas Lagos

During the first half of 2011 we have been very active in the Region XV of Arica and Paranicota, with education campaigns and new surveys. The team produced new, colourful education materials in Spanish and Aimara, the native language, including 1000 posters and 1000 brochures with information about Andean cats and the fauna and flora of the High Andes. We distributed these materials among 12 rural schools and discussed with students about the threats Andean cats face and why it is import to protect them. In the schools of Ticnamar and Putre the children created amazing paintings depicting animals of their region in great detail and with bright colours.

At the same time, Andean cats made themselves visible in 10 of our camera-traps, distributed in 31 sites over an area of around 2,000 km². Our intensive work, with a sampling effort of 5,842 trap-nights, was amply compensated by images of seven different Andean cats, among them two kittens!

The Itinerant Exhibition spreads the plight of Andean cats in Bolivia

By Gabriela Aguirre

Through informal environmental education the Itinerant Exhibition brings information about Andean cats and High Andes biodiversity to many students, to the general public in El Alto city, the local Zoo Vesty Pakos Sofro and to Sunday fairs in La Paz. Our main objective has been to raise awareness of the need to protect Andean cats and the High Andes ecosystem as a whole, and to create positive attitudes towards conservation.

As a result, more people know about Andean cats and are aware of their conservation challenges, mainly from hunting. When people possess the knowledge needed to develop a positive attitude, they become active conservation subjects themselves, wokring in favour of the protection of Andean cats and their habitats. This is a versatile education strategy that the Andean Cat Alliance will soon implement in other regions and countries.

Protecting Andean cats from persecution in the Patagonian steppe

By Susan Walker, WCS Argentina – Patagonian and Andean Steppe Program

The population of Andean cats of Patagonia was only discovered in 2005. Genetic analysis indicates a long history of isolation of this population from the cats of the Andes. In Patagonia, Andean cats are killed by goat herders who consider them a threat to their goats. During the past year we documented numerous recent killings of Patagonian cats, especially in one large plateau of southern Mendoza. Here at least 12 herders have seen Andean cats, and at least 10 of the cats have been killed since 2008. Given the natural rarity and low density of this species, and that we have probably not documented every cat killed, this rate of killing could result in extinction of an important sub-population, interrupting connectivity with the southernmost cats in Neuquén province.

We are seeking to prevent this local extinction through a pro-active approach to immediately stop killing of Andean cats in the plateau, including “payment for services” to herders when photos of Andean cats are taken on their lands, in addition to continuing to provide them with assistance for reducing predation losses.

Establishing the foundations for long-term conservation of Andean cats in Bolivia

By Juan Carlos Huaranca and Lilian Villalba

Our efforts are giving fruit and we can now confirm the existence of an Andean cat population in the area known as Ciudad de Piedra (Stone City) in the department of La Paz. Our camera-traps captured three different Andean cats and eight Pampas cats, with a density estimated at 0.018 and 0.049 individuals per km² respectively These results coincide with those from studies in other regions, which showed Andean cats to be the less abundant of the two felids.

Equipped with a set of camera traps, we are now planning to survey other areas in the country, in collaboration with the Institute of Ecology at the University Major de San Andres and Wildlife Conservation Society.

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5 responses to “Andean Cat Alliance Newsletter

  1. david October 26, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Congratulations to the Andean Cat Alliance. It achieves a fantastic job !! I like the Andean cat and pampas cat ! These cats are living patrimony of south America countries !

  2. B.J.P November 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Some really great work by the Andean Cat Alliance. Will they be sharing their photos of the Andean Mountain Cat? – as there doesn’t seem to be many pictures publicly available of this elusive creature, and I would love to see more!

    Keep up the good work.

    • felids November 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

      You raise a good point about photographs. The reason there are so few pictures is because few people – including the researchers studying them – ever see these cats. Their population is so small, and they range over such a wide area that researchers even have trouble getting them in traps to attach radio collars. And these are the people who have the best idea of where the cats can be found! It’s a very tough terrain to locate a small cat, and there are never enough funds for sufficient traps. Rest assured that if the AGA ever does manage to take photographs of the elusive Andean Cat, they’ll be on this blog at some point.

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