Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 182517891
Addressing a multinational challenge: Andean cat conservation and awareness in regions with high level of human-carnivore conflict at Southern Cone.
The goal of the project was to promote the long-term conservation of the Andean cat by raising awareness of the species and mitigating human-carnivore conflict through the use of livestock guarding dogs (LGD). By decreasing conflict, it follows that herders will be less likely to hunt carnivores and target accidentally Andean cats. Local communities received talks about conflict mitigation methods and the importance of Andean cats in their ecosystem and culture. Together with a local leader in Chile, we created the first livestock guarding dog breeding center for Andean cat conservation. This involved importing a new breed (Anatolian Shepherd) from USA with the aim of producing puppies with genetic traits suited to guarding livestock. Currently, we have delivered 5 new LGD to families that live in Andean cat habitats and we have a new litter to deliver 10 puppies more. We trained the local leader in LGD care, and we improved the facilities of his farm to meet Chilean law for responsible dog management. This center will provide the opportunity to benefit several farmers in several communities along the Andes Mountains, which we hope will be an example to others about coexistence with carnivores and with the Andean cat as a flagship. We travelled to Argentina with the first LGD Great Pyrenees female, who will contribute to improving genetics about livestock guarding in the next generation of LGD in Andean cat habitats. In addition, we produced two murals with children in local schools, each depicting the threats facing Andean cats and human-carnivore conflict which will contribute to not forget the direct threats for the cat in local communities. We produced the first ever Andean cat short documentary that was shown in local communities and the capital of Chile Santiago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAK2veKd9mo&t=3s). This documentary is our best tool to create awareness on people that never saw the cat before which will changes people attitudes. Finally, we developed several media awareness tools such as a digital comic about Andean cat and its main threats (https://www.facebook.com/perros.pandilleros/), and short high-quality videos for social media in our pages Andean Cat Alliance (https://www.facebook.com/alianzagatoandino/) and Seeking the Andean Cat (https://www.facebook.com/andeancats/). All of this have been contributing to create awareness about the species and more importantly to create knowledge about this beautiful cat.