How sand cats survive in the desert and what threatens this species

By Jurassic JennApr 23, 2024 12:38 PMAnimals
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How sand cats survive in the desert
How sand cats survive in the desert. Source: www.activewild.com

In 2017, African sand cats flooded the Internet after their photos went viral. Outwardly, these animals are difficult to distinguish from domestic cats, but there are differences - they are completely wild and adapted to the arid climate of the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Peninsula.

The SSPDaily website reports: "The sand cat weighs up to 2.5 kg and has pale gray fur that camouflages it among the compacted gravel and dry shrubs of the harsh desert landscape. These unique qualities and their ability to survive in difficult conditions make them unlike any other cat."

How are desert cats studied?

To better understand the ecology of this species, a group of researchers conducted the most detailed study of sand cats in recent years. Its results helped analyze the social dynamics of these animals and determine the size of their home range. The scientists also discovered that the cat's conservation status may have to be upgraded to "Endangered".

Because sand cats are small and elusive, they were difficult to track in the extreme desert conditions. Nevertheless, the team did not deviate from the task. The researchers equipped 22 captured sand cats with VHF radio collars and followed them across southern Morocco.

What did the scientists learn about sand cats?

By observing the animals, scientists realized that tiny sand cats are able to cover much greater distances than previously thought, rivaling tigers and leopards in this regard.

Thus, the predicted range of the sand cat was about 1,093 square miles in six and a half months, although this is probably an underestimate. Cats can move outside of the control zone, making it difficult to assess where their range begins and ends.

The researchers managed to obtain reliable data from 10 cats and even tracked one cat for more than a year. The information they collected led them to the conclusion that these animals are nomadic.

Examples of routes show that they depend on environmental conditions. When there is a lack of food or the activities of humans and other animals disturb the territory they occupy, sand cats move to another location.

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