Wildlife Conservation Society

Dec 14, 2018

4 min read

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.