The most endangered cat in the Americas has been found living on the outskirts of the Chilean capital.

Iran PressAmerica: Teetering over an arid cliff face above the sprawling Chilean capital, Bernardo Segura reviews the footage from the camera trap and lets out a yell of excitement as the images reveal a flickering striped tail.

On the screen displaying the conservationist’s latest video capture is an Andean cat – the most endangered feline in the Americas. Looking a little like a miniature snow leopard, the 4kg (9lb) male enters the frame and begins spray-marking the shrubs at the base of the cliff before stealing away through sharp rocks with his banded brown and grey tail aloft, The Guardian reported.

Segura is excited for many reasons. With a shrinking population of fewer than 1,400 mature Andean cats left, any sighting is good. But this one heralds a signal of hope in a different way for the species and the conservationists battling against the cats’ extinction because it confirms a new population living close to humans – on the very edge of Santiago, a city of eight million people.

Some of the greatest threats to the cats come from extractive industries around the Andes mountain range, such as mining, quarrying and fracking, which destroy their habitat and consume massive amounts of water, draining the animals’ sources dry. Segura published a paper in May on another discovery of Andean cats, in Valparaíso, a mountainous coastal region north of Santiago city. In the paper he warns of the threat posed by plans for a large-scale open pit mine called the Vizcachitas mining project, which is being developed in the area.


Read More:

Newly found fossils suggest animal life started 890 million years ago

New fossils reveal largest land mammal