Mauro Lucherini

Linking Education and Research for the Conservation of the Andean Mountain Cat

ArgentinaCentral and Latin America, Education, Mammals14 Aug 2002

Strict habitat association and habitat fragmentation, low local densities and decreasing prey populations appear to be pushing the Andean mountain cat, a very little-known small felid, towards extinction.

Interviews, school-based educational activities and field surveys will be used to assess the Andean cat's present distribution, to understand its ecological needs and the causes of its critical status, start designing long-term conservation plans with the involvement of local communities.

Through the interaction with local people, we aim to find a path conciliating social development necessities and the conservation of wildlife in a little studied, highly vulnerable ecoregion.

Project Update: January 2003

Last December, we have been carrying out two expeditions on the Andean Mountain Cat, one in Argentina and another one in Bolivia. The travel to Bolivia was not very successful, because of a very bad sickness of one of our Team's members.

In Argentina, we covered almost 2,600 km by truck (almost only on dirt roads), in a region of approximately 16,000 sqkm, ranging from 3,000 to 4,800 metres above sea level. A very experienced local guide (Cirilo Arancibia) helped us during the last 8 days of fieldwork. As planned, we made interviews with local people and conducted field surveys. Now, we have to wait for the DNA analysis of the samples we collected.

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