Some animal species are so elusive that humans don’t know how many walk the earth.
Getting a chance to see a rare, elusive species is an incredible experience.
Capturing that rarity on video can be a once-in-a-lifetime memorable event that can help a species survive.
Grégory Breton is managing director at Panthera, an organization devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their landscapes.
He has for years studied one of the most elusive wild cats – the sand cat.
Breton’s sand cat observations have been mostly limited to captive populations. He was determined to find the species in the wild, even dodging sandstorms and roughing it in the cat’s home territory in the African desert.
Sand cats are perfectly adapted to such a harsh environment with fur that blends into the sandy climate. They have a stealthy ability to hunt small desert rodents and can roam as needed to survive.
Breton was on his last expedition in Morocco in the desert, and working through the harsh environment about 2 a.m. with a guide.
“I was chatting with our local driver, Elhaj, to keep him awake … [We were] close to giving up,” Breton recalled.
He sat atop the roof of their sport utility vehicle, shining a light here and there in the darkness of the desert night.
“Then, it happened,” Breton said. “Three pairs of eyes gleamed back.”
Sand cats – three kittens all watching nervously.
And, another, an adult female with a radio collar nearby. She was likely the kittens’ mother.
Breton and his team moved cautiously as they began filming the rare encounter.
“If we collect footage of her and follow her for a long period, we can gather data on the natural reproduction cycles and offspring dispersal of this species in the wild — all topics never before documented,” Breton told of the experience.
Popular assumptions are, according to Breton, that sand cats are widespread and not highly vulnerable to human activity. Because the cats are so elusive, it’s hard to pinpoint all the facts of their world.
Breton’s research tracking the sand cats may provide undiscovered clues to life for the cats.
“Sand cats are traveling more than we thought and more than what’s been recovered for any other small cats,” he explained. “But we still don’t know why – yet … if the low density is confirmed over time, the species may not be as frequent as believed.”
“Ours has been the most extensive research on this species,” Breton added, “and it will surely help to protect it.”
Three sand cat kittens and their mother are hoping Breton and his team are successful.
Watch more about the sand cats here:
It was 2 a.m. in the Moroccan Sahara, and Panthera France Director Gregory Breton was keeping his SUV driver awake while his colleague squatted on the roof shining spot lamps into the bushes, close to giving up on their expedition. And then it happened: Three pairs of eyes gleamed back at them through the darkness. They belonged to sand cat kittens–and the videos and stills the team excitedly captured are believed to be the first-ever documentation of the species' young in its wild African range. Read the whole story at http://bit.ly/2jXwy0J and see more adorable photos at http://bit.ly/2y4s3rI.
Δημοσιεύτηκε από Panthera στις Δευτέρα, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017
Source: The Dodo