Monthly Wild Cat News
A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World
During the holiday season more than ever, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible. In this spirit we say, simply but sincerely, thank you and best wishes for the holiday season and a Happy New Year from ISEC Canada and the small wild cats.
The ‘Sand Cat in the Hat’ photo is an eight-year-old, mother-raised cat owned by Jungle Cat World in Ontario.
“After desensitizing the cat to the hat, the hat was lowered by a thread while taking advantage of the species’ ‘freezing’ behaviour. This well-known survival instinct most likely evolved due to the lack of vegetative cover and extreme heat in the desert”.
We couldn’t possibly find a better photograph to wish our readers and members the very happiest of holiday seasons!
Many of our ISEC Canada members are keen photographers, and include both amateur and professional photogs. We are always happy to showcase wild cat photos on this blog, so if you have any pictures you would like to brag about, please email them to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Williams in the United Kingdom has sent us more wild cat photos. This week we’re featuring the adorable Sand Cat, photographed at Marwell Wildlife Park in Hampshire, UK.
The endearing little sand cats are a clear favorite with our members! The only wild cat to be found in true desert habitat, sand cats are found in North Africa, the Middle East and possibly Central Asia. Living in the hot desert sands, their feet are densely covered with fur for traction and insulation on loose, hot sand. True desert specialists, sand cats are not found in vegetated valleys but prefer sandy and stony desert and arid shrub-covered steppes.
Their habitat is so remote that they are somewhat insulated from human activities (at least in Africa) and their population size is unknown. Threats include the expansion of cultivation, and feral domestic cats and dogs which result in predation, competition for food and diseases.
After around two years of field surveys and tracking, the Iranian Cheetah Society film crew has successfully filmed a sand cat for the first time in Iran. As a joint film project, the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) and Naein Department of Environment have been collaborating to produce a documentary movie about Abbas Abad Wildlife Refuge’s rich biodiversity which three HD shots of around one hour were caught during winter 2011.
The sand cat is one of the most elusive felids in the world and is very difficult to study using trigger camera traps. The films show natural behavior of the animal, both during day and night (with infra-red light) which is useful for scientists to gain a better perception of the animal which is rarely seen in the wild.
Based on the Iran Cat Database program initiated and updated since 2007 by the ICS, Abbas Abad is one of few confirmed habitats for the sand cat in Iran which holds colonies of the species. It is adapted to live in extreme arid environments with long fur under its paws for better movements among sand dunes.
The animal has been killed by herd dogs on a few occasions in past years, but a sand cat was recently saved from herders. The ICS’ biologists implemented investigation on the animal before releasing and used this animal to educate local herders about this animal, hopefully to prevent more dog-caused mortalities of this small felid.
Now, parallel to producing a documentary movie, the ICS plans to launch the first radio-telemetry project on the sand cat in Iran.
See more of the wonderful work done by the Iranian Cheetah Society on cheetahs. leopards and wildlife of Iran.