|SMALL WILD CAT
The Andean cat is the only Endangered cat in the
Americas. Fewer than 2500 individuals are thought
to exist. During the past decade my colleagues,
notably the 40+ people working under the umbrella
of the Andean Cat Alliance (AGA, a WCN partner
organization) in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru,
and I, enabled by your generous help, have greatly
improved our understanding of the geographic
distribution of the Andean cat (below in red).
Armed with this hard-won information and a much
improved appreciation of threats to the Andean cat,
we know where significant populations of Andean
cats exist and where local communities are
supportive of conservation actions (yellow circles).
What threats must be addressed?
Conservationists concerned with the Andean cat face
four problems. First, indigenous people attribute
supernatural powers to wild cats; these powers can be
harnessed by killing the cat, decorating it and
displaying the dead cat. Second, Andean cats show
no fear of people – they do not run away. Third, in
some areas people eat mountain viscachas, the
principal prey of the Andean cat. Fourth, industrial-
scale mining activities require scarce fresh water
resources. Fifth, global warming is causing rapid loss
of glaciers whose waters maintain the only feeding
areas of mountain viscachas. Engaging the local people
in high value conservation areas is essential to
ensuring the survival of the Andean cat.