1378

Andean Cat

South America

1378

Leopardus jacobita

Endangered

Habitat destruction causes lack of prey, vulnerability to predators, and low reproductive rate of its remaining small fragmented population.

The Andean Mountain Cat, considered as South America’s rarest wild cat species, was named in honour of Jacobita Mantegazza. It inhabits the high-elevation arid zones of the Andes Mountain in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.

The Italian naturalist Emilio Cornalia was the first to describe it as having ashy grey fur all over its face, ears, and head although its cheek and lip areas are white. From the eye corners and across the cheeks, there are distinct brown lines. Black and brown spots can be found on its flanks, forelegs, and hind limbs.

Scientists believe it is a solitary and nocturnal wild cat species that is equipped with impressive hunting skills. While it forages mountainous, rocky terrains for its prey, its long tail is held up high to provide balance and agility.