A future for Colombia’s wild cats

A new approach to conservation is making the future seem brighter for Colombia’s wild cats. Colombia has six native wild cat species including the jaguar, puma, and ocelot. As in many other countries, the species are threatened by habitat loss, loss of prey and killing by livestock farmers. Lack of information on their populations, their prey and ecosystems have until now prevented the design of effective conservation strategies.

Guavio region of Colombia where some of the wild cat surveys are being carried out

But thanks to multi-stakeholder efforts, the National Conservation Programme for Felids in Colombia is now underway. This has established conservation guidelines for all species by region and aims to form an integrated nationwide initiative to establish the abundance and distribution of these species and their prey, and how to tackle conflicts between the wild cats and farmers.

“Projects are being carried out with the local communities and with the support of the local environmental authorities, improving livestock management to reduce risk of attack. The work involves a diverse team of anthropologists, economists, biologists and veterinarians,” explains Carlos Andrés Valderrama, Director General of Fundación Vida Silvestre Neotropical and member of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.

Local communities are both providing on-the-ground information and guiding the teams to gather the social, biological and economic information needed to identify factors that affect the wild cat populations and to redefine the conservation measures, region by region. Maps, inventories and biological information about the species have been updated; species that were thought to be extinct in the wild regionally due to hunting have been found, and others have been found where they were not expected to be. Workshops have been held with the local communities to increase public awareness about conservation and enhance local participation. The aim is to ensure that the Programme is sustainable in the long term by generating benefits for people, the cats and the ecosystems in which they live.

For more information contact Carlos Andrés Valderrama
E. carlosvalderrama@hotmail.com

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