Wild sand cats are exactly what they sound like: sand-colored cats that live in the desert (specifically, those in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia).
They are difficult to identify since they are quite uncommon and mix in with their surroundings.
And it wasn’t until a few years back that their kittens were captured on camera.
the species of sand cat
You’re sure to think they’re cute if you’re a cat person.
These fluffy cats have black bands strewn throughout their coats and tails, large green eyes, and white hairy faces.
They are tiny creatures, but their large, fluffy bellies give them the appearance of being much larger than they actually are.
Because of the thick fur on even their little cat toes, they are protected from burning their skin on the hot sand in their natural environments (or in the nighttime cold desert air).
They walk with their claws out, so you can identify which footprints belong to them.
Even if we truly desire one, keeping them as pets is against the law and unethical.
the first time being noticed
While there are sand cats (and kittens) in zoos all over the world, Grégory Breton, the Managing Director of Panthera France, was the first to capture images and video of the kittens in the wild.
He talked about seeing them while visiting Morocco.
He was talking to his driver to stay awake at 2:30 in the morning after a seven-hour journey through the Sahara. Their Land Cruiser’s roof was where his buddy was stationed, casting headlights into the bushes:
“Then it took place. 4 kilometers from our campground, three sets of eyes shone back at Alexander through the shadows. They belonged to young sand cats, little, yellowish wild cats that were larger in the ears and face than domestic cats, the man claimed.
Captured on film
The Felis margarita has little fear, maybe in part due to their excellent concealment. Breton described the discovery of the kittens as “astonishing,” nonetheless.
We put up camera traps and spent an hour taking images and movies in the hopes of capturing some natural behavior after we left. They were too young to be collared, according to our knowledge of sand cat litters raised in captivity, and we estimate that they were six to eight weeks old. We think this is the first instance of wild sand cat babies having been observed in their African range by scientists.
Research on sand cats
In the Moroccan Sahara, there is a project tracking sand cats, and the crew saw an adult female close with a tracker, maybe the mother of the babies. They took care to quietly pack up and go without creating too much of a ruckus even though she was pacing agitatedly.
We have identified 29 different sand cats so far, radio-collared 13 of them, and gathered some unexpected data. For example, sand cats are moving farther than previously believed and farther than what has been found for any other small cat. However, we still aren’t sure why,” Breton said.
They are working on helping to safeguard the species.
Although it’s a difficult job, someone has to do it.
Breton explained how challenging it is to protect a species, despite the fact that it seems like a dream job.
“Tracing sand cats is exciting, but difficult due to the harsh terrain and high heat. When we can locate the collared cats during the day, we record their resting sites. We then take a nap in the afternoon, eat a supper made and eaten in the shade of a rare acacia tree or in one of our tents, and then head out again between dusk and sunrise. The optimum time to track sand cats’ movements and watch their activities is during this time when they are most active.
It’s everything but luxurious because there are no amenities like restrooms or power.
However, there are kitties as well!
To see the first video of the kittens, scroll down below. They are really cute!
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