I thought I would share a few photographs I took of a beautiful little sand cat a few years ago at Exmoor Zoo. We haven’t had a holiday in well over 20 years, but recently my husband lets me away with the camera for three days a year. This location was chosen to give me a chance to recover after all the early mornings and late starts. (I generally get up around 4.30 every morning to get to a location for sunrise and then I don’t get to bed until nearly 11.00 at night). The zoo was well run and more to the point, it had a café, toilets and plenty of places where I could sit down.
The sand cat is the only cat to inhabit true deserts and until very recently was listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list. It was down listed to “least concern” in 2016.
It inhabits both sandy and stony desert in areas far from water. Having very furry feet, it is well adapted to the harsh conditions found in these places. They all have sandy fur – some with spots and/or stripes and some with neither. It weighs between 1.5 and 3.4 kg. It can be found in North Africa and South West or Central Asia where it can survive temperatures ranging between -5C and 52C. Although it will drink water when available, it can survive for months on just the body fluids of its prey.
There are only 200 individuals in European zoos and attempts are being made to breed them in the hope they can eventually be returned to the wild.