In Search of the Cat of the Mountains

At an elevation of 5,000 meters, a small feline spends its days between snowcapped mountains and scrublands in an effort to avoid becoming extinct.

Image for post
Image for post
In the heights of the rural community of Punalaqueque lives one of the most difficult cats to see in the wild: the Andean cat. Credit: Camera trap/WCS.
Image for post
Image for post
Cuyocuyo has asked to be designated by the Peruvian Government as a living cultural landscape for its ancestral terraces system and as an agrobiodiversity site for its diverse agriculture. Credit: Diego Pérez/WCS.

Like most felines, the Andean Cat lives alone, and its stealth has made it almost impossible to photograph.

Image for post
Image for post
To recognize the Andean cat you have to look at its tail and its spots, it has a much longer tail and with very thick rings, incomplete rings on the front legs, and lateral spots that do not form rosettes. Credit: Camera trap/WCS.

Cuyocuyo boasts spectacular natural and cultural values and provides ideal conditions for the conservation of species like the Andean cat.

Image for post
Image for post
The majority of families living in Cuyocuyo dedicate themselves to ancestral agriculture. Seven of the eight potatoes domesticated around the world grow on its terraces. Credit: Diego Pérez/WCS.

The sighting of this rare cat in Cuyocuyo demonstrates why conservation must span beyond political and geographic boundaries.

Image for post
Image for post
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Andean cat as “Endangered” (at high risk of extinction in the wild) on its well-known Red List. Credit: Camera trap/WCS.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store