New felines in the Explora Conservation Reserves
Explora has two conservation reserves located in Puritama (San Pedro de Atacama) and Torres del Paine in Chile with the objective of protecting local fauna. For this aim, each has camera traps, which allow for documentation of some animals that are at risk of extinction.
Mid-way through this year, the cameras recorded a mother puma with her cub in Puritama and a Geoffroy cat in Torres del Paine, which is a great discovery and a joy for Explora and the other organizations with which they have been working for over 10 years for the wellbeing of these animals.
THE PURITAMA CONSERVATION RESERVE
Located deep in an Andean canyon of the Atacama Desert, the reserve covers an area of 7,000 hectares in the Puritama River valley, including the Puritama hot springs, where the native vegetation and abundant flora and fauna offer an oasis for numerous species.
In the year 2010, Explora decided to install cameras in order to record the presence of mammals within the reserve. Currently, there are 20 cameras that are found throughout the reserve, which are monitored in conjunction with the NGO Alianza Gato Andino, in addition to guides and staff from Explora, who have joined the expeditions to install and review cameras.
So far, it has been possible to register all three of the feline species present in the Andean Altiplano: the puma, Andean cat and Colocolo cat. The last record they obtained is very important, since a puma mother with a calf is observed, both vocalizing.
“Beyond the anecdotal record of the vocalization, this is tremendously relevant since it accounts for successful puma reproduction inside the Reserve, which emphasizes the need to continue protection not only of the puma but also of the rest of the ecosystem that Puritama houses”, commented Nicolás Lagos, coordinator in Chile of the Alianza Gato Andino.
THE TORRES DEL PAINE CONSERVATION RESERVE
Located in the northeast sector of the Torres del Paine National Park, Explora has two ranches that are the true expression of the biological richness of Patagonia. They include different ecosystems, such as the Magellanic forest, pre-Andean scrub, steppes and the Patagonian desert. Two rivers cross the estancias accompanied by wetlands, lagoons and other bodies of water.
This land is the home of the gauchos of Patagonia, who, in their daily lives, continue to practice their ancient traditions.
In Patagonia, sightings of pumas, Geoffroy’s cat and the Colocolo or Pampas cat have been recorded, the latter being the rarest of the three, with very few records in the Magallanes Region.
This year a Geoffroy cat was observed in the Explora cameras, which is a relatively common feline in the Torres del Paine area and its surroundings, but even so it is still important to be able to verify that there is a place in the Reserve where individuals of this species, which was intensively hunted in the past.
There are several organizations that care about and watch over the welfare of these animals, such as Phantera, AGA and Geoffroy’s Cat Working Group (GCWG), among others. It is very important to protect the well-being of cats, since they are generally at the top of the food chain, and as such, they control everything that happens in the chain. This is why maintaining healthy feline populations in one place means that the ecosystem is healthy and functional.
“This is very important since thanks to these organisms and institutions, it is sought not only to protect and care for fauna and ecosystems, but also to contribute to human well-being and to mitigate the effects of human activities on the planet,” said Nicolás Lagos, coordinator in Chile of the Alianza Gato Andino.