Elusive Sand Cat Spotted After 10 Years’ Disappearance
This beautiful elusive creature has been recently photographed for the first time in 10 years.
The sand cat is a shy and secretive animal only seen in the desert at night. It’s a nocturnal hunter perfectly adapted to its desert home. This delightful looking wild cat has no need to drink water as it get’s all it needs it’s prey, which is mainly small birds, reptiles and mammals. They also have special hairs in their ears and paws to keep the sand out.
Little is known about this elusive species but was recently photographed in the deserts of Abu Dhabi for the first time in over ten years, giving valuable scientific insights into the reclusive feline. Sightings of this nocturnal creature in the wild are particularly unusual, this is due to their endangered status in Middle Eastern countries.
A group of researchers initially set up five cameras around a 1,990-square-metre area in the Western Region, about 150 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi. They baited camera traps with food over several months and eventually managed to capture 46 photos of three of the cats over several moonlit nights. The images were then sent to species experts, who confirmed they were the sand cats by observing the animals’ unique markings.
The latest picture of a sand cat from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi
John Newby of the Sahara Conservation Fund said the findings were significant as the sand cat population is thought to be declining globally due to habitat loss. “Sand cats are naturally rare,” he told New Scientist. “There’s an absence of scientists working on sand cats and very few assessments are being made to assess the behaviour, population and status of the species. It is clear that field research will all be extremely valuable in putting together conservations plans for the sand cats and their habitat, as well as pinpointing those areas and their extent that may be turned into protected areas to conserve the cats. Scientists need to be doing more research on how the sand cats live in order to create a suitable protected area.”