Earlier this month, rangers looking through footage from camera traps in a Chilean nature reserve encountered a surprise sight: an Andean cat and her kitten, the Dodo reports. This cat is so rare that not only had it never been seen in this part of Chile, it had only ever been observed in the wild a few times.
The small, gray and fuzzy Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) has always been elusive—so much so that until the last decade, scientists weren’t sure whether it was an endangered species or just living far from human eyes. (It’s endangered, it turns out.) Before 1998, Andean cats had only been photographed twice. It’s thought that they live mostly above the timberline in the Andes (although one population was found a few years ago lower down in the mountains).
This month, the cat and kitten above were photographed in Chile’s Los Flamencos National Reserve. The reserve is in the the northern part of the country; the photographs indicate that the cats have a wider range than anyone knew. There are only about 2,500 Andean cats in the entire world, so any evidence of their survival is pretty incredible.
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