I’d like to briefly talk about some of the work of Jim Sandeson Ph.D. and his colleagues in setting up the Andean Cat Conservation and Monitoring Center.
In order to set up this type of center a better knowledge was required of where the Andean cat was to be found and Jim started on that task in 1998 when he decided to search for the most elusive of wild cats in the Americas, the sweet looking Andean mountain cat.
It seems that Jim took the first widely publicized photograph of the Andean cat. It was published in National Geographic Magazine and has been widely used on the internet.
With his 40 or more colleagues at the Andean Cat Alliance he has identified the areas where:
- The Andean cat population is “significant” and;
- where the local people are in favour of conservation of this wildcat.
These areas are marked on the map on the page showing the Andean mountain cat range by dark circles. Jim says that the Andean cat is the most threatened wild cat in the Americas and it is IUCN Red List “Endangered”.
The next task was to gather real facts about the little known Andean cat in order to assess the significance of the fact that:
- Local people think that the Andean cat can give them supernatural powers when it is displayed (dead of course).
- The Andean cat has no fear of people so it is easy to kill for the above purpose.
Clearly this is endangers the cat but the question was how significant and are these factors to the survival of this cat and are there more important factors such as global warming and/or prey loss? A proper center was needed to research these issues and Jim and his colleagues with the assistance of the Chilean authorities identified a suitable building at San Pedro de Atacama for the Andean Cat Conservation and Monitoring Center. It is also marked on the map referred to above by a blue flag. Here is a view of the surrounding area:
View from San Pedro de Atacama – photo by Luiz Henrique Assunção
The building was unused and needed refurbishment. That was in April 2009. I don’t know of the progress but funding is always required. Jim estimated $61,000 to get the station “up and running”.
This is great work and urgent work to preserve this rare and special wild cat. If you would like to contribute please go to Jim Sanderson’s website and make contact with him: Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation Contact