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African Wildcat

African Wild Cat – Felis silvestris lybica

African Wild Cat - Description:

The African Wild Cat is similar in appearance to a domestic cat; however, it is proportionally larger and has longer hind legs. Cats in the drier western portion of the subregion are a light sandy ground colour with brown or rufous markings. In the eastern potion, they are light grey with charcoal or black markings; there is a wide area with intermediate colouring. A dark stripe runs along the midline of the back and neck, 2 distinct stripes circle the neck and there are 6-7 vertical stripes on the flanks. The legs are banded; markings are more distinct on lower limbs. Relatively long tail dark-ringed with black tip. Chin and throat are while and the chest in typically more pale than the rest of the body. Belly typically reddish. Backs of ears are coloured a rich reddish-brown. The average shoulder height is 35 cm. Total length is 85-100cm, tail 25-37cm. Weight is anywhere from 2.5-6.0kg.


African Wild Cat – Habits, Behaviour and Social Organisation:

African Wild Cats are active at night and in the early mornings, and during the day in cool weather. These cats are solitary except when mating or when females are accompanied by kittens. Probably territorial depending on food availability. Spends most of the time on the ground, but is an agile climber and readily flees into tress if pursued.


African Wild Cats – Food and Hunting:

Feeds mainly on small rodents but they also eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and other invertebrates. Largest recorded prey is hares, springhares and birds up to the size of guineafowl. Also been known to feed jackal berries. Mice and rats are preferred, but if scare, they will switch to arthropods and birds. African Wild Cats detect prey by sight or sound, stalks in crouch with head low, using cover. They rush forward to prey and pounce with the claws of the forefeet. Precise killing bites are used; where they are directed depend on prey size.


African Wild Cat – Reproduction and Offspring:
Gestation: 65 days. Litter size: 2-5 cubs. Eyes open at 10-14 days. Kittens are born in the summer (September-March). Litters are born in dense vegetation cover, rocks or burrows dug by other species. Their mothers may carry them to a new refuge every few days


African Wild Cat - Adaptations:
The Grizzled pattern on coat helps camouflage the cat in its natural habitat





African Wild Cat – Population and Distribution: African Wild Cats are found throughout the subregion in all habitats except desert. They depend on cover to hide during the day. This includes holes in the ground, caves, rock crevices and burrows dug by other animals.

African Wild Cat Population in Namibia:
Current population estimate is unknown.

African Wild Cat– Conservation Status:
Red Data Book: Vulnerable. CITES: Appendix II.

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