The 24/7 program continues to fill up information gaps along the Andean cat’s range. In 2022 we obtained new presence records, and gathered samples that will help us better understand Andean cat genetics and population connectivity. One additional highlight of this program is that it goes beyond this wildcat. In two regions of Peru, Ayacucho and Puno, we successfully obtained camera trap images and genetic samples of Andean cats. With the cameras we also recorded other threatened species like Tarucas (Hippocamelus antisensis), vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna), Andean ostriches (Rhea pennata) and others.
PARTNERING FOR LONG-TERM CONSERVATION
In conservation, work gets easier if we partner with other organizations and institutions that share our objectives: long term conservation of wildlife and wild places.
In Uspallata, Mendoza, Argentina we confirmed the presence of an Andean cat thanks to the collaborative work with the NGO Natura International, the National Parks Administration and the National Ministry of Defense. The confirmed presence of this endangered wildcat provides great leverage to support the current efforts to declare this area a National Park.
OUR RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP PROGRAM TOOK ITS FIRST STEPS
Our responsible pet ownership program aims to reduce the emerging threat that domestic dogs bring to wildlife. Our goals include:
- Reducing feral dog populations by educating locals residents.
- Minimizing the risk of disease propagation from domestic carnivores to wild animals.
- Eliminating direct kills of Andean cats by domestic dogs.
The program’s initial steps were to identify the health status of domestic dogs. After this assessment, we were able to recognize the presence of canine distemper and a high prevalence of intestinal parasites in the towns of Colololo and Cañuhuma in Bolivia.
So far, we have performed over 100 personal interviews and vaccinated over 41 dogs and cats. We are now developing workshops with the communities that aim to increase responsible pet ownership and to design customized interventions like spaying and neutering of domestic carnivores.
CATCrafts program continues growing
In 2022, we focused on deepening local knowledge and growing internal capacities in the communities of artisans, doubling our outreach. We developed specific training programs, most of them requested by the artisans.
In particular, the artisans wanted to become better storytellers. Their goal was to share their stories with tourists at local fairs and explain the importance of Andean cat conservation. In short, they have become stronger conservation ambassadors. As a bonus, they also developed better pitches, increasing their sales and helping the CATcrafts to reach far and wide!
Andean cat and Vicuña festival
In 2019, to celebrate AGA´s 20th anniversary, we organized the first Andean cat and Vicuña festival. The vicuña is an endangered native camelid related to llamas and alpacas and is important to the local community for the sustainable traditional harvesting of its wool. This was a great event, with many community members participating with dances, music and a fair. This year, the pandemic restrictions finally were removed and the community of Lagunillas del Farallón surprised us by announcing that they intended to hold the festival for a second time and that they wanted it to become a yearly tradition. The festival in 2022 included activities designed by local school children, music and dancing. We were honored to be part of it!
HAPPY DOGS – HAPPY CATS
To facilitate human-wildlife coexistence, we aim to reduce the conflict between herders and local carnivores. In northern Patagonia, Argentina, guard dogs have proven to be a very effective strategy for reducing puma attacks on livestock. The puppies bred in our center are working hard and have provided excellent data to improve the program. To date, with 16 dogs active in the field the program protects 122,000 acres of Andean cat habitat. The herders living on this land are committed to no longer hunting Andean cats.
The challenges of this program include its high cost and heavy investment of time. To be able to enhance our impact, we are working to increase the number of breeding centers, while creating alliances to facilitate the continuity of the program.
Andean cat declared Natural Treasure by Jujuy Province, Argentina
Jujuy Province in the northwestern corner of Argentina is making a difference. In September 2022, they declared by Law Nº6268 that the Andean cat is a Provincial Natural Treasure. Our organization is currently working with the local government to create a specific action plan and enact its policies.
Furthermore, we hope that other provinces will be encouraged to replicate this initiative. With your help, we will continue working to develop inter-institutional relationships for the protection of the High Andes, its wildlife and the Andean cat.