South American countries committed with saving the Andean Mountain Cat
Four Latin American countries are joining efforts to save the Andean Mountain Cat Leopardus jacobita from extinction.
The Andean Mountain Cat is a rare species endemic to regions in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It is considered by the IUCN as an endangered species with a population of less than 2,500 individuals. Among its main threats are their habitat loss due to mining, cattle ranching, hunting and unregulated tourism.
They’ve also threatened because their main prey, the southern viscacha is also hunted by humans making the Andean Mountain cat compete for its food. Southern viscahas presence and water availability influence the distribution of the cat in the region, assures the Andean Cat Alliance (AGA).
AGA is the only project that promotes the Andean Mountain Cat’s conservation. It was founded in 1999 and consists of a team of scientists, most of them biologists and focuses in creating scientific reports about the species, awareness campaigns among the region’s population and promoting its conservation.
Among their achievements is the fact that Chile named the Andean Mountain Cat as its ambassador during the Native Fauna Day, celebrated each November 5th which gave it more recognition and support.
“This has made the species more known among the citizens, therefor they’ve shown a lot more interest in knowing why they’re endangered and what can they do to reverse it,” told Mongabay Nicolas Lagos, AGA’s Research Coordinator.
Also one of the most known Mountain Andean Cats is Jacobo, rescued in La Paz, Bolivia earlier this year. He was found by locals in Patacamaya, they say he was in the middle of a football field and then delivered him to the Environment and Forest Police.
Jacobo lived in the Vesty Pakos Zoo during his recovery. After medical exams and evaluations, he was kept in the most similar conditions to his natural habitat waiting for approval to be transferred. On August 26 Jacobo was taken to the Sajama National Park, AGA placed a GPS collar and he was released under CITES protocol.
Through AGA these four countries are focused in getting to know more about the species. Right now AGA’s committed to three main action plans: research, education and training and conservation. Also, they created a Strategic action plan that aims to:
- Guarantee the long-term conservation of the Andean Mountain Cat’s habitat.
- Including the Andean Mountain Cat and his environment within local policies in all four countries.
- Reinforcing conservation and research activities in the protected areas where the Andean Mountain Cat lives and promoting the expansion of these areas.
- Promoting research that focuses on the threats faced by the Andean Mountain Cat.
- Unifying the work of all research and conservation groups.
- Training all personnel working in protected areas in research activities, education and conservation.