Preserving the Soul of the Andes – Conservation of the Andean Mountain Cat, Argentina

Preserving the Soul of the Andes – Conservation of the Andean Mountain Cat, Argentina

Project Animal(s) : Andean mountain cat
Project Category : Mammals
Project Region : South America
Project Type : Conservation
Project URL :
Project is timebound? : No

The Andean cat is included in Appendix I of CITES and it is fully protected across its range. Hunting and trade are prohibited in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. However, law enforcement is difficult in most of its distribution range and in some parts non-existent.

Since 1999, the Alianza Gato Andino is working on the Andean cat in all range countries. Beside national conservation, education projects for the protection of the Andean cat and its habitat, some multi-national projects exist. Due to these efforts, the information about this rare and unknown species is increasing. In 2004 the Andean Cat Conservation Action Plan was developed. This plan compiled and organized the existing information on the Andean cat, included the perceptions of local people from different geographic areas and listed protected areas where Andean Cat presence is confirmed or suspected. Based on the compiled information, main threats were identified and three lines of action were established: 1) Research, 2) Education and Community Participation, and 3) Conservation Management.

This Action Plan was revised as expected, after 5 years of its application, and several of those objectives were achieved or needed to be updated. Andean Cat Alliance members produced the Andean Cat Conservation Strategic Plan, in which the information on the species and its presence in protected areas was revised and geographic priorities were chosen for carrying out research and conservation actions. This Strategic Plan, maintained the three lines of action but updated the general objectives and specific goals, as follows:

General objectives

a. To ensure long-term conservation of the Andean cat and its natural environment, including the restoration or rehabilitation of the environments that have suffered degradation.

b. To integrate the conservation of the Andean cat and its natural environment within local policies in the four countries where the species is present, working locally but with a global approach.

c. To strengthen activities of conservation and research in protected areas with Andean cat populations, and to promote the creation or extension of existing protected areas to provide connectivity and/or protection of habitats and Andean cat populations.

d. To promote research on the conservation threats, ecological requirements of the species, its principal prey, and other sympatric carnivores.

e. To standardize the activities of working groups under common and more effective goals.

f. To train protected areas staff and local communities in activities in research, education and conservation tasks; within and outside said areas.

Specific goals by action line

1. Research

a) Distribution and Genetics: Complete the distribution map, identify the genetic structure, and establish the Andean cat conservation’s status within its expected range, to guide population conservation actions against habitat loss and degradation.

b) Ecology: Increase knowledge of biology, ecology and conservation threats of the Andean cat.

2. Education

To continue with environmental education activities and community participation, focusing on creating a favourable environment for the development of conservation actions, promoting critical thinking and generating participative opportunities linked to the biodiversity of mountain ecosystems and their main conservation problems, with the goal of increasing knowledge of the Andean cat, preserving its environment in order to help address the identified threats.

3. Conservation

Promote environmental management actions aimed to protect critical populations of Andean cats, their genetic variability, and their role in the ecological processes within their natural habitat.

The status of the Andean cat and the size of its populations are still poorly understood and further research is urgently needed.

Local community engagement in conservation is currently the primary line of action of AGA. Traditional cultural reverence for the Andean cat could be the foundation of a conservation education program to reduce hunting pressure. The maintenance and restoration of mountain vizcachas, the Andean cat’s main prey, is also an important factor for its conservation.

Project Agency : Cat Specialist Group

Project Agency Contact :

Project Researcher : Mauro Lucherini

Project Researcher Contact :

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