To implement conservation initiatives, we work based on three action lines: research, conservation, and education. Each one of them has objectives that strengthen, support, and intertwine with each other to achieve our goal: the long-term conservation of the Andean cat and its habitat.
Building the foundation for Andean cat conservation
Basic research was one of the first priorities for AGA, given the lack of knowledge about the species. Fieldwork is challenging because the Andean cat is a difficult species to find. It lives in an area with extreme conditionsm such as low temperatures, strong winds, and thin air at high altitudes. Over the years, AGA researchers have overcome these challenges and obtained key information about previously unknown aspects of the Andean cat, aided by technological resources such as camera traps and radio telemetry. We know that the Andean cat, like other feline species, hunts all kinds of prey but ingests a remarkable amount of mountain vizcachas and small rodents. We also know that it prefers to be active at dusk and night. The range of the species is large for a cat of this size and although it moves throughout the landscape, it prefers rocky terrain that provides food and shelter. It is also frequently placed near water sources. Not long ago, the Andean cat was considered one of the least known felids in the world. All of the incredible advances in our understanding have facilitated the creation and implementation of actions aimed to guarantee the conservation of the species.
Currently, within the framework of the In the field 24/7 program, photographic trapping and genetic studies come together to gather valuable information that allows us to enact concrete conservation actions.
Education and Training
Working collaboratively with communities, technicians, and decision-makers to achieve effective conservation.
Convinced that we can only preserve what we know, one of our main objectives has always been to increase knowledge and positive awareness about the Andean cat within the local communities. For this, we worked to establish the species as a flagship for the conservation of regional biodiversity. It is fundamental to involve local communities in the development of this renewed image of the Andean cat, since they are the ones who have direct contact with it and its ecosystem. It is through the exchange of knowledge and understanding that we implement educational activities about the Andean cat and the importance of its conservation.
Training and building skills are fundamental pillars of educational strategies. Training workshops in carnivore tracking and monitoring are held among government staff, protected area technicians, university students, and local people who are actively involved in environmental conservation. To achieve these objectives and reach diverse audiences, we developed the “Modular Education Program“.
At the same time, we disseminate information to the general public. Members of AGA actively participate in talks, workshops, exhibitions, and events at every opportunity to increase the exposure of the species and advocate political policies favorable to Andean cat conservation.
Overcoming limits and challenges, finding creative opportunities to generate spaces and implement conservation actions.
AGA works with local communities to identify and develop economic strategies that are compatible with the conservation of the Andean cat and its environment. For this, we collaborate with many partners to generate a global impact from our local endeavors.
Our multinational conservation programs present flexible toolkits that adapt to the specific needs of each community in order to find creative solutions that mitigate or eliminate conservation threats. These actions are developed under central supervision by program coordinators.
Increased knowledge about the Andean cat allows us to propose long-term conservation actions in harmony with local communities. This has resulted in the creation of three different programs that address diverse threats: the “CATcrafts Program“, the “Conflict Mitigation Program” and the “Green Gold Program“.