View Full Version : Elusive Arabian sand cat spotted after 10 years' disappearance

10-01-2016, 06:42 PM

BLINK and you’ll miss it. The Arabian sand cat is a shy and secretive animal only seen in the desert at night. Now, after a 10-year absence, three have been glimpsed on camera in Abu Dhabi.
A team led by Shakeel Ahmed, an assistant scientist at The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), captured 46 photos of the cats in Baynouna, a protected area. The sightings were usually made late on moonlit nights and at cooler times, suggesting the cats prefer low temperatures for foraging (European Journal of Wildlife Research,doi.org/bnqj (http://doi.org/bnqj)).

The sand cat (https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630230-200-the-cat-made-me-do-it-is-your-pet-messing-with-your-mind/) is well adapted to its desert home (https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27748-silver-coat-lets-saharan-ants-withstand-scorching-desert-heat/). It doesn’t need to drink water as it can get all it needs from the small animals that are its prey. Special hairs in its ears and on its paws keep the sand out.
We know little about the cat’s biology, and populations may be declining. The team hopes its work will help inform conservation strategies. “Scientists need to be doing more research on how the sand cats live,” says John Newby at the Sahara Conservation Fund.