Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13257694
The Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) is an endangered small cat, mainly restricted to the rocky and open, semi-arid and arid treeless areas over 3000 m above sea level at the high Andean plateau of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. Main threats for Andean cat populations are related to loss and degradation of the unique altiplanic habitat, such as the desiccation of bofedals (wet meadows) due to water extraction by local mining activities and other human impacts. Andean cat habitat is naturally fragmented and highly fragile, with extreme climatic conditions, scarce vegetation and discontinuous rocky areas where their main prey is found, the viscacha (Lagidium viscacia). The harsh altiplanic conditions along with the Andean cat's low density and elusive behavior makes them very hard to monitor directly (i.e., sightings, live-trapping). In fact, the carnivore community of the altiplano ecosystem on the high Andes, including the Andean cat, Pampas cat (Leopardus colocolo), Culpeo fox (Lycalopex culpaeus) and Puma (Puma concolor), is one of the least studied in the world.
This project will establish a long-term monitoring network for Andean cat populations in the altiplano of the Northern Macrozone in Chile through camera trapping. Camera traps are inexpensive, easy to run tools especially appropriate for monitoring elusive carnivore populations in extensive areas. The long-term monitoring network will help us identify new, previously unrecorded Andean cat populations and fill the gaps on the species' distribution map in Chile. It will generate ecologically important data of presence, distribution, abundance and activity patterns for Andean cat populations, their main prey and sympatric carnivores throughout the altiplano. The monitoring network will allow the assessment of Andean cat population trends in the long-term, while strengthening our knowledge of specific local threats for Andean cats in order to identify priority areas for conservation. Systematic long-term baseline information will assist informed decision making for conservation planning of Andean cat populations in the altiplano of the Northern Macrozone in Chile, providing a sound basis to formulate conservation policy. Throughout the altiplano, park guards from the National Agency of Protected Areas in Chile (CONAF) are receiving training in camera trapping and monitoring of Andean cat populations, empowering them to become active collaborators of the long-term monitoring network.
Future directions include the signature of an Agreement with the National Agency of Protected Areas in Chile, interregional meetings and workshops held annually on the Northern Macrozone in Chile, continuing to enlarge the current monitored area and strengthening the long-term monitoring network for its consolidation.
Project 13257694 location - Chile, South America