The Andean cat is one of the rarest and least-known cats in the world. It lives high in the harsh climates of the Andes and Patagonia Mountains, where food is scarce and weather conditions are extreme. This small, sturdy cat is difficult to find – there have been only ten recorded sightings in 25 years – and even harder to study.
The Andean Cat Alliance, which operates across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, the countries where the cat lives, has risen to this challenge. Members of the Alliance devote their time and energy to saving an animal that most of them may never be able to see. Habitat loss and habitat degradation due to mining, water extraction, unregulated tourism and agricultural practices threaten the cat, as does hunting.
The Alliance was the first to capture and radio collar an Andean cat and uses its increasing knowledge of the cat for conservation education and the growth of protected areas.
Andes Mountains & Patagonia
"When I started working on the Andean cat in 1997, very little was known about the species."
- Lilian Villalba
A Unique Conservation Approach
Research projects focus on establishing the presence of the Andean cat in previously unexplored areas, using camera trapping and systematic scat collection, and learning about the cat’s activities. Researchers also evaluate the environmental and human variables that affect the distribution of Andean cats.
Once the Andean cat’s presence has been established in a region, Andean Cat Alliance members promote the creation and strong management of protected areas and corridors for the cat. The Alliance works with governments and communities to conserve these areas for Andean cat habitat. They also support the development of sustainable land usage practices.
The Alliance works with communities to help members learn about the cat and participate in conservation. Festivals celebrate the Andean cat, while workshops allow community members to suggest alternatives to harmful practices, which include land usage that threaten the cat’s habitat. Workshops that encourage the change of land usage benefit the Andean cat, other wildlife, and community members.
new locations of the Andean cat discovered by the Alliance
park rangers and guide students who have attended Andean cat monitoring training sessions
Lilian Villalba is the Director of the National Museum of Natural History in Bolivia and devotes her remaining time to serving as the General Coordinator of the Andean Cat Alliance. She works closely with Country Representatives from each of the four countries where the Andean cat can be found, and with Coordinators of each of the Alliance’s three areas of focus (Research, Education, and Conservation.)
Country Representatives: Argentina: Juan Ignacio Reppucci; Bolivia: Juan Carlos Huaranca; Chile: Nicolás Lagos; Peru: Anali Madrid
Area Coordinators: Research: Rodrigo Villalobos; Education: Maria Jose Merino; Conservation: Dina Farfán
How You Can Help
$200 buys one camera trap, an essential tool to monitor the elusive Andean cat.
$1,000 enables the Alliance to hold a three-day community workshop for 40 people to learn about Andean cats and how to protect them.
A donation of any amount can contribute to the purchase of vehicles that allow research teams to reach the remote areas inhabited by Andean cats.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
The Andean cat, which lives high in the rugged Andes Mountains, is one of the rarest cats in the world. Any new information about the cat is exciting, especially when that information points to the presence of the Andean cat in a region of the Andes where it has not previously been found.