Andean Cat Alliance
October 10, 2020
11:45 am PDT
The Andean Cat Alliance (Alianza Gato Andino or "AGA") protects one of the rarest and most elusive cat species in the world, the Andean cat. There have only been ten sightings of Andean cats within the last 25 years, making efforts to study them quite challenging. With less than 1,400 adult cats remaining in the wild, AGA’s work across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru is crucial to the survival of this species. AGA employs a multinational approach to address threats to the cat’s habitat, which, coupled with the involvement of local communities, provides the most impactful strategies to ensure this remarkable cat has a future in its home in the Andes Mountains.
Dr. Rocío Palacios
Dr. Rocío Palacios has been interested in wildlife, particularly felines, since age 11. She studied biology at the National University of Córdoba and completed her doctoral thesis on the Andean cat. She arrived in the Andes in 2003, researching Andean cats and working for the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Argentine National Parks Agency, always as part of the Andean Cat Alliance (AGA). After finding signs of Andean cats in northern Patagonia in 2005, Rocío coordinated research and trained staff in protected areas. In 2018, she received the Disney Conservation Hero prize for her work with the AGA. Rocío is part of the cat specialist group of the IUCN and the Argentine Society of Mammalogy.
Dr. María José Bolgeri
Field Coordinator, Argentina & Conflict Mitigation Program
Dr. María José Bolgeri’s love for animals spurred her to pursue a degree in Biology at the National University of La Plata, Argentina. During this time, she volunteered on conservation projects developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in San Guillermo National Park, where the populations of guanacos, vicuñas, pumas, and Andean cats were studied. After further studying the relation between guanaco migrations and the predation patterns of pumas in La Payunia Provincial Reserve, she got involved with reducing conflict between herders and wild carnivores. She currently works with the Conflict Mitigation Program in a collaboration between AGA and WCS Argentina.
Photography credit: (c) Cristian Sepulveda