Thursday, August 1, 2013

Is This a Once in a Lifetime Sighting????

An extremely rare and endangered Black - Footed Cat!!!!

One of our Guides Mikey Mouton had the most incredible experience last week...and here is his Blog on this amazing encounter.

"On the cold winter evening of Wednesday the 23th of July at 18h15,  I had the great pleasure of seeing one of Africa’s rarest inhabitants, the Black-footed cat, also known as the small spotted cat (Felis nigripes).
What made this sighting more special is the fact that the animal was very relaxed with my vehicle and that we were able to watch the animal for half an hour.  During this time I was able to take nearly 100 photographs, which is vital to prove to the other rangers that it wasn’t just a prank!
Interestingly Addo Elephant National Park is on the fringes of this animal’s natural habitat, and therefore very few sightings have been recorded in the parks history.
After watching the cat groom itself for what seemed like an eternity (typical cat behaviour!) my guests and I were even lucky enough to see the animal in action, stalking a Scrub Hare (Lepus saxatilis).
Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on which way you look at it) the hare got away.  After this bit of activity, the cat moved onto the road, where it was briefly interested in its own shadow.  More grooming commenced, and it was off into the grasslands on the next hunt.
After calming myself down for a few seconds, we gradually made our way back to the lodge under the beautiful African night sky, everyone quietly reflecting on the awesome experience.

Black-footed cat (Felis nigripes)
Smallest of the Southern African cat species, its natural habitat is dry, open grassland and scrub with 100-500mm rain annually.  It’s diet includes; rodents, shrews, hares, rabbits, birds, elephant shrews, invertebrates, reptiles and birds’ eggs, an unusual item for a cat.  The hare is a large prey for such a small predator.
The cat is solitary and nocturnal, and shelters during the day in disused springhare burrows, under rock slabs or in holes in termite mounds, from which it gets its Afrikaans name ‘miershooptier’ (ant-hill tiger).
The Black-footed cat is listed on the Red Data Book as rare.

Source:                                     Smithers’  Mammals of Southern Africa"

Blog by Mikey Mouton...thank you Mikey.

(Photo: Mikey Mouton)

Click on the Image to view a fullscreen version.

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