How many Andean Mountain cats are left in the world?

Date: Nov. 2021: There are an estimated, approximate 1,400 mature individual Andean mountain cats living in the wild. This is a big question which people ask using Google search because it’s a very hard question to answer, precisely. My experience in finding answers to the population sizes of any of the wild cat species is that the expert struggle to be precise and sometimes anywhere near precise. They count them using camera traps and scats. Wikipedia says that there are fewer than 2,500 individuals in the world as at 2021. The experts in this area of science report for the IUCN Red List. This is an organisation who keep tabs on the population sizes of tens of thousands of species and they understand the threats to the species and why their population numbers are almost invariably decreasing as is the case with the Andean Mountain cat.

Andean mountain cat
Andean mountain cat wearing a radio collar. His name is Jacobo. Photo copyright J. Reppuccini AGA
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

They say that the number of mature individuals is 1,378 as at 2021. The disappointment is that this information is based on an assessment of April 20, 2014. The information was published in 2016. We are looking at information which is about seven years old.

Bearing in mind that the population number is decreasing, I believe that we can be certain that the number of mature individuals has decreased by a noticeable percentage since this last assessment. Note too that the figure relates to ‘mature adults’. This is because only mature adults can procreate which is important in assessing how endangered they are.

They also state that their population is severely fragmented which jeopardises survivability and they agree that the population of mature individuals will continue to decline.

The threats to this very cute, small wild cat species include hunting of the cat by people, reduction in the prey that this cat feeds on (by people) and habitat loss and fragmentation. Habitat loss of habitat degradation were the main threats as at 2008. It appears that people hunt this cat because it is part of their tradition and for ‘palliative’ reasons as stated by the Red List which I presume to mean that they believe that eating it has some sort of medicinal benefits.

Dogs also kill the cat and my research indicates that it is indeed killed for traditional medicine in central Peru. The bottom line is that interference by people in its many forms is the reason why this cat is classified as endangered, which is a great shame because it is a very benign and unobtrusive cat that does no harm to anybody and which lives between 650 and 5000 m above sea level in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru.


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