The Arabian sand cat, the only feline known to inhabit a true desert, is very rarely seen by humans.
But now the European Journal of Wildlife Research reports confirmed sightings of Felis margarita harrisoni using trail camera traps set up in Baynouna Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. It’s a first in more than a decade.
Forty-six photographs of the elusive cats were snapped during 278 trap nights from March to December last year.
The majority – 80 per cent – of the sightings took place at night, between midnight and 6 a.m. And, a full 39 per cent were recorded during the full moon phase.
“These are the first confirmed sightings of the presence of Arabian sand cat in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate after an unconfirmed sighting reported in 2005,” the researchers found.
The World Conservation Union’s red list considers the species “near threatened” as habitat destruction and lack of available prey threatens the future of the 10,000 cats that are left. Though nobody really knows how many cats are left or the real nature of their population decline.
One thing is abundantly clear, however. They are adorable.
— The National (@TheNationalUAE) August 8, 2016
They may be cute, but you probably wouldn’t want to have them warming your lap.
Main photo Environment Agency Abu Dhabi/Facebook