Dear friends of AGA,
Once again we circulate the AGA newsletter, with updates from our activities and a new section to help you get to know us better! Starting this second quarter, the VII International Workshop for the Andean Cat Conservation gave us the opportunity to strengthen ties and collaborations among members of the Alliance, while reiterating our commitment to work together for the conservation of the Andean cat and its habitat. The event was hosted by the AGA Chile team in San Pedro de Atacama, to whom we thank for their hospitality, extending our gratitude to everyone that contributes to our activities and achievements in one way or another.
M. Lilian Villalba, General Coordinator, Andean Cat Alliance
- Andean Cat Conservation Workshop
By Alejandra Torres
Between the 19th and 22th of April the members of the Andean Cat Alliance held its VII International Workshop for the Conservation of the Andean Cat in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, with the participation of Elaine Iverson and Jean-Gaël Collomb from WCN. The meeting was possible thanks to the support provided by the Wildlife Conservation Network,Explora Foundation, Disney Online Studios and the Darwin Initiative.
During the workshop we developed a funding strategy for AGA and shared news from our various projects. We successfully achieved the goals we had set up for this workshop, and we want to thank all the organizations that made it possible, and to everyone for their participation and valuable inputs. We are certain that with your support and our efforts, we can make a significant contribution to the conservation of Andean cats across their entire range.
By Maria Jose Merino
Even at low levels, persecution and habitat deterioration can devastate species with population densities as low as those of the Andean cat. In such cases, conservation and education needs to go hand in hand and thus the Andean Cat Global Action project works to build a positive perception of Andean cats through education and community participation, using itinerant exhibitions and distributing new awareness material widely. We are implementing this project since September 2011 and until October 2013, with funding from WCN and Coins for Change Program of Disney Online Studios.
A more positive perception can help to improve the long-term viability of local Andean cat populations, and of the species as a whole. At the same time, by strengthening the image and public awareness of the work of AGA, the project will facilitate the activities of the Alliance in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, while consolidating the Andean cat as flagship species for biodiversity conservation across its range.
- Puritama and its role in the Andean Cat conservation
By Magdalena Bennett
A recent record of Andean cats in Puritama, a private protected area in Chile, opened new questions about the biogeography of the species. Puritama is located in the west flank of the Andes, where elevations fall sharply down into to the Atacama Desert, and where summer precipitation is low and the winter rains from the Pacific very variable. These conditions create geophysical and biotic differences and areas of great interest such as in the deep gorges of Purifica or Puritama.
In order to understand the importance of Puritama for the conservation of Andean cats in the triple frontier between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, this year we are implementing a research project with the support of WCN and Hotel Explora. The project members Nicolás Melo and Cesar Pizarro are now working in the field to obtain more information about Andean cats and the factors that affect their presence in Puritama. We hope to be reporting our results very soon.
- Andean cat with kitten in Ciudad de Piedra, Bolivia
By Juan Carlos Huaranca
During a camera trapping campaign in “Ciudad de Piedra” (Stone City) between September 2011 and January 2012, we obtained several photographs of Andean cats and among them, one of female Andean cat with her kitten. This is the first photograph of this kind for the region, revealing important information about Andean cats’ breeding season.
The photo shows that in Andean cat kittens the spots of the back and the rings along the tail are barely noticeable, making them easy to confuse with a Pampas cat kitten. It is important to note these similarities and to be cautious when sightings of the Andean cat are reported from area where the Pampas cat is also present, or from incomplete skins.
- In search of Andean cats in the Tarapacá Region, Chile
By Rodrigo Villalobos
In the Tarapacá Region, located between two other Chilean regions where Andean cats are known to be present, several years of searching have failed to provide yet indications of the presence of this endangered cat. In March the AGA Chile team carried out a field campaign in collaboration of CONAF (Forestry National Corporation) and installed 11 monitoring stations in different habitats where latrines of wild cats had been found. The camera traps are still active and we hope to have great news in the next months.
- Andean cat news from Patagonia
By Susan Walker
In northern Patagonia, Argentina, the “Grupo Costa del Río Colorado” has been working with assistance from the WCS Patagonian and Andean Steppe Program to implement wildlife-friendly husbandry of goats and produce “green” cashmere. The group is using livestock guarding dogs to protect herds from predation and has committed to not kill Andean cats and other small cats, as well as adjusting herd size to carrying capacity, improving the health of herds and selling old goats that are no longer reproductive.
On December 2011 the group made its first sale of this Patagonian “green” cashmere to a U.S. buyer, and has applied for Wildlife Friendly certification for the new product. Group members are already obtaining increased income in spite of having fewer goats, due to the greater efficiency of more sustainable practices and the better price they are obtaining for the added “green” value for their cashmere. WCS is working to spread this model to other parts of northern Patagonia where Andean cats live.
- SHOWCASING OUR MEMBERS – Claudio Sillero
In this new section we introduce and recognize the work of AGA members, whose actions have helped to accomplish our mission.
In this issue, as a special acknowledgment, we present Claudio Sillero, who through the offices of WCN helped moderate the biannual AGA workshops since the early 2000s, showing great commitment and interest in our work. In 2005 Claudio formally joined AGA, implementing an international conservation programme for Andean cats in the triple frontier between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, while participating and contributing assiduously to the development of the Alliance.
Claudio was born in Argentina where he graduated as zoologist at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, settling in Africa soon afterward. In 1994 he obtained a DPhil from the University of Oxford for his studies on the behavioural ecology of the Ethiopian wolves with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). Currently Claudio is the Deputy Director of WildCRU. His commitment, hard work and professional excellence took him to positions of important responsibility in wildlife conservation projects across the world. Claudio’s love for his natal Pampas brings him home from tim this side of the Atlantic and, lucky for us, to get involved with Andean cat conservation.
Alianza Gato Andino 2012– A multinational and interdisciplinary network for the survival of Andean cats and their habitats through research, conservation, community participation and protected areas’ support. Mainly funded by the Wildlife Conservation Network. email@example.com