Feline Conservation Federation Raises $15,000 to Save the 'Ghost of the Andes'

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The Feline Conservation Federation is raising funds in support of a project by Dr. Jim Sanderson to build the world's first Andean Cat Conservation and Monitoring Center in San Pedro de Atacama, in the high Andes mountains of Chile. The Andean cat is so rare Dr. Sanderson refers to it as the "Ghost of the Andes."

The Feline Conservation Federation presented a five-foot check for $15,000 to Dr. Jim Sanderson at the group's 2009 convention, held in Salinas, California.

The funds were raised to build the world's first Andean Cat Conservation and Monitoring Center in San Pedro de Atacama, in the Andes of Chile.

Dr. Jim Sanderson, who has studied rare wild cats all over the world, believes a conservation and monitoring station is needed to collect comprehensive data about the animal, focus international attention on the Andean Cat, teach preservation practices to the local community, and give scientists a laboratory for study.

Dr. Sanderson acknowledged the efforts of the FCF to help save the world's felines. "This kind of commitment from the Feline Conservation Federation proves that each and every cat held in captivity acts as an ambassador for those of its kind struggling against increasing odds to survive in the wild."

"What makes FCF members' generosity even more impressive", adds Sanderson, "is that it supports not just conservation of species that they maintain, but also all those that are unlikely ever to ever be seen in person!"

Earlier this year the FCF provided $5,000 to this critical, on the ground international wildlife conservation project with a grant from its Rare Species Fund. The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, T.I.G.E.R.S., started the RSF. The fund is co-managed by the Feline Conservation Federation, enabling contributions to the fund to be tax-deductible.

In appreciation for their outstanding support, Dr. Sanderson presented federation members who donated to the building fund with the half-size Andean cats. The stuffed cat, a one-half-scale copy of the threatened South American cat, is one of a strictly limited supply. Designed by Dr. Sanderson, the plush Andean cats are available only to donors and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The real 10-pound Andean cat is so rare that few people outside their high-elevation habitat have even seen one. No photos of the 'Ghost of the Andes' existed until 1998, when Dr. Sanderson captured the first documented image of one.

"The Andean cats are among the most endangered felines in the wild", says Sanderson.

The survival of this feline is at risk partly because the Andean cat has no fear of humans and are killed and displayed as good luck symbols by the local people. Both the locals and the Andean cats compete for the same food source, a hare-like creature called the mountain viscacha.

The Feline Conservation Federation, an international non-profit organization devoted to the protection and preservation of exotic cats, is a long-time supporter of Sanderson's research. The group, composed of conservationists, sanctuaries, zoos, exotic cat breeders, exhibitors, educators, trainers and handlers, is raising funds to help finance the construction of the facility.

For more information visit the website at http://www.felineconservation.org.

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