Panthera Researcher Gregory Breton Films Wild Sand Cats In Their African Range For The First Time

‘It was 2 a.m. in the Moroccan Sahara, and I was heading back to camp after seven hours of driving through sand, dust, and prickly vegetation on my fifth and final expedition to document sand cats. I was chatting with our local driver, Elhaj, to keep him awake, while my colleague Alexander Sliwa spent a few more minutes squatting on the roof of our Toyota Land Cruiser shining spot lamps into the bushes, close to giving up.
Then, it happened. Three pairs of eyes gleamed back at Alexander through the darkness about 4 kilometers from our campsite. They belonged to young sand cats, yellowish, small wild cats with broader faces and larger ears than domestic cats.
Finding sand cats (Felis margarita) in their natural range (northern Africa, across the Middle East, and southwest and central Asia) is difficult. They barely leave any visible pug marks, they don’t leave behind remains of their prey, and their vocalizations are quiet. They move stealthily at dusk, night, and dawn, they’re good at hiding, and their fur provides perfect camouflage when they want to vanish from observers and threats. But they don’t run away.
Finding these kittens was astonishing. We spent an hour taking pictures and videos and setting up camera traps in the hopes of recording some natural behavior once we left. Based on our experience with sand cat litters in captivity, we estimate they were six to eight weeks old—too small for collaring. We believe this was the first time researchers ever documented wild sand cat kittens in their African range.’ – Gregory Breton, MS, Managing Director, Panthera France

Panthera researcher Gregory Breton films wild sand cats in their African range for the first time

Panthera researcher Gregory Breton films wild sand cats in their African range for the first time

Panthera researcher Gregory Breton films wild sand cats in their African range for the first time

Panthera researcher Gregory Breton films wild sand cats in their African range for the first time

Panthera researcher Gregory Breton films wild sand cats in their African range for the first time

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