CATCRAFTS: Crafting a shared future for Andean cats and local communities

Current initiative

Published March 2020

Andean cat image taken by a camera trap in Chile. Credit: Cristian Sepúlveda, AGA

Andean cat image taken by a camera trap in Chile. Credit: Cristian Sepúlveda, AGA

This project aims to adopt craftsmanship as a creative tool and a livelihood initiative, enabling the Andean Cat Alliance (Alianza Gato Andino – AGA) to support wildlife conservation – particularly of the Andean cat – through increased engagement of local people while simultaneously reinforcing the cultural identity of the High Andes communities, improving their livelihoods and empowering women.

Lead

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected Andean cat Leopardus jacobita , Pampas cat Leopardus colocolo , Puma Puma concolor

Inclusion of gender, age and ethnic groups

Our project primarily targets women, because they are the traditional keepers of craftsmanship knowledge, but we do not exclude men, and in most communities they work in collaboration, usually splitting responsibilities related to the production process. Artisans from all age classes are invited to participate, producers are only people from legal age.

The strategy

Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship

Other
Further detail

Artisans that participate in the program have an increased sense of belonging and a more positive image of the Andean cat. They also understand they can coexist with wildlife in a positive way and they became ambassadors for the conservation of their environment in general.

Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife

(Non-wildlife-based) enterprise development/support
Further detail

We are helping local artisans to improve the quality/design of their handcrafted products and to increase the incomes generated by this activity. The handcrafts are created with livestock wool that typically comes from the same community. In these communities livestock is usually attacked by pumas and culpeos and in the past, the communities will hunt all carnivores in retaliation. Now, after we gave an added value to the wool by linking it to the image of the Andean cat, and combining this with educational activities and capacity building, we are observing a reduction in general hunting of all carnivore species.

Build/and or support sense of community ownership or stewardship

Further detail

By incorporating the Andean cat image into the local communities’ handicrafts, we are creating a direct connection between this wildcat and an economic benefit. This, in turn, is supporting a sense of stewardship towards the Andean cat and its habitat.

Improving education and awareness

Further detail

Artisans increase their knowledge and appreciation of the Andean cat by weaving its image into their products, after they attend capacity building workshops. Thus, our activities are transforming them into ambassadors of the conservation of this felid, who spread their increased understanding to other members of their community and the people interested in buying their handicrafts. Women in these communities became particularly engaged because our project is giving them the opportunity of becoming part of something bigger than themselves and of their community’s decision making process, as providers of new economic incomes.

Organisers, donors and partners

Wildlife Conservation Network, USA. 
Fundacion Ona, Chile. 

For further information contact Mauro Lucherini (lucherinima@yahoo.com).