The long-awaited return of the elusive sand cats to the wild

In late 2015 and early 2016, scientists discovered an exceptionally rare cat that appears to no longer exist in the wild. However, only recently has the story of this encounter been made public.

Meet the Arabian Cat Cat, a feline with a knack for vanishing! These adorable creatures have earned a reputation for being expert hiders – one moment you see them, and the next, they’re gone in the blink of an eye. Being nocturnal animals only adds to their stealth, making them even harder to spot. Their fur and legs come in handy, helping them beat the scorching desert heat, while also concealing any tracks left behind. Although they’re found across the deserts of North Africa, Arabia, and Central Asia, there’s still very little information out there about these fascinating cats.

The world’s Red Book has designated the Arabian sand cat as an endangered species. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it is regarded as critically endangered. The decline in their population is primarily due to the destruction of their natural habitat and the decrease in their food supply. Today, most of these cats reside in UAE zoos as captives.

It has been almost ten years since the elusive sand cat was spotted in the wild. Nonetheless, last year, a team of scientists from Abu Dhabi’s Environmental Agency was able to capture multiple photographs of these felines thriving in their natural habitat. The Wildlife Field at Baynouna, a preserved area in Abu Dhabi, served as the ideal location for this remarkable discovery. After months of diligent waiting, 46 snapshots of three distinct sand cats were taken using camera traps.

Sand cats tend to have their encounters during the late hours of the night when the Moon is at its brightest and the weather is favorable. This indicates that sand cats prefer a temperature range of 11 to 28 degrees Celsius. Along with photos of the sand cats themselves, there are also pictures of other animals in the area, including desert beetles, glossy lizards, and geckos. This suggests that the sand cats have access to an abundant food source.

According to the experts, this discovery is immensely significant and will aid in developing approaches to safeguard the endangered feline species in the times ahead.

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