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Save the güiña – a new plan to conserve the smallest wild cat in the Americas

SANTIAGO – The Güiña, also known as the Kodkod, is been threatened with extinction and to save the smallest cat in Americas, the Universidad de Chile has come up with a plan. The current population of güiñas is estimated on a maximum of 10,000. The wild cat, native to the south of Chile, has been suffering from loss of habitat and prey.

In seven regions of Chile, a plan will be implemented that aims to prevent the current population of güiñas to shrink even more. The plan, funded by National Geograhic and designed by researchers from the Universidad de Chile, must reduce the threats that have brought this small cat to the verge of extinction. Logging, hunting and the presence of humans and dogs have made it impossible to live in some areas for the güiñas. Also, a lot of güiñas die in car crashes when trying to cross the road.

The project will be developed in the regions of Valparaíso, Metropolitana, O’Higgins, Maule, BioBío, Araucanía and Los Ríos, and for all four threats there are measures to be taken. Through sterilization campaigns, health checks and campaigns for responsible holding of pets in rural areas, attacks or diseases transmitted by dogs and cats must be prevented.

The plan aims to place speed bumps and warning signs on roads where güiñas cross, and construct biological corridors where the animals won´t get affected by the construction of for example houses. Chicken coops must be made “güiña-proof”, as for example on the island of Chiloé various güiñas got killed by local farmers, after attacking chicken. The conservation of the güiña is important to Chile, as the animal represents the unique wildlife found in Chile.

 

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