ESR 16:85-94 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00389

Distribution of two Andean small cats (Leopardus jacobita and Leopardus colocolo) in Bolivia and the potential impacts of traditional beliefs on their conservation

M. Lilian Villalba1,*, Nuria Bernal2, Kristin Nowell3, David W. Macdonald4

1Andean Cat Alliance, Achumani, calle 17, No. 41, La Paz, Bolivia
2Wildlife Conversation Society-Bolivia, Calle Gabino Villanueva No. 340, entre calle 24 y 25, Calacoto, La Paz, Bolivia
3Cat Action Treasury, PO Box 332, Cape Neddick, Maine 03902, USA
4Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Zoology Department, University of Oxford, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK

ABSTRACT: We conducted field research in 1998−1999 and 2001−2002 in the high Andean and Puna eco-regions of Bolivia to estimate the distributions of Andean cat Leopardus jacobita and a similar species, the pampas cat Leopardus colocolo, and to evaluate the attitude of local people towards these species to determine potential conservation threats. Field interviews were conducted with local villagers, in parallel with an intensive search for direct and/or indirect signs of the 2 species. Confirmed records for the Andean cat suggest that the species is mainly restricted to the high Andean region of Bolivia (elevations above 4100 m), whereas the pampas cat can be found both in this region and at lower elevations. Most of the confirmed records were for the pampas cat, suggesting that it is more abundant than the Andean cat. Both species are generally referred to by local people as ‘titi’ and are culturally associated with Earth’s abundance and fertility. The skins or stuffed specimens of both of these cats are used in ceremonies associated with agriculture and native livestock activities. Killing these cats for traditional purposes may represent a significant threat to both species, especially to the Andean cat, but reverence for both species should form the foundation for a conservation education campaign.


KEY WORDS: Bolivia · Andean cat · Pampas cat · Distribution · Traditional beliefs · Threats


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Cite this article as: Villalba ML, Bernal N, Nowell K, Macdonald DW (2012) Distribution of two Andean small cats (Leopardus jacobita and Leopardus colocolo) in Bolivia and the potential impacts of traditional beliefs on their conservation. Endang Species Res 16:85-94

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