#helpBFC – a big campaign for a small cat

In the harsh desert environment of South Africa lives a very tiny wild cat. Adult male black-footed cats weigh less than five pounds, or 2.5 kg, making them one of the smallest wild cat species in the world. Theirs is a world of arid climate, temperature extremes, vast hunting areas and constant danger from larger carnivores.

black-footed cat in the wild

Black-footed cats are no bigger than your house cat, and probably smaller in most cases. They are only found in three countries: Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

An incredibly tenacious little cat, the natives have a legend claiming these tiny cats can bring down a giraffe. While this is untrue, it pays homage to the determination of these feisty little felines.

Researchers often record interactions between black-footed cats and other animals in their habitat. Their attitude proves that while they may be small, they don’t let their size stop them!

“The male Kubu was located resting in a hollow termite mound. When he became active, he sprayed several times, then caught a gerbil. He continued to forage and as a group of bat-eared foxes three times the size of the cat approached, Kubu sat and watched them. When one of the foxes came too close, Kubu slapped him and just walked on.”

Or how about this determined kitty:

“I was following one of the black-footed cats when I drove past a blue crane nest I had been checking the past week. This time when I shone my spotlight on the big birds, I noticed the bright blue eyes of the male black-footed cat next to the nest. I watched as he sniffed the nesting female’s head and neck, then tried to push underneath her to get to the chicks in the nest.”

black-footed cat hunting
Their Population is Decreasing

In addition to natural threats like black-backed jackals, caracals and eagle owls, these cats are increasingly being challenged by human changes to their habitat.

The average black-footed cat eats about 3,000 rodents each year. This should earn them the title of Farmer’s Friend, but they face many man-made threats:

-Poisoning of carcasses to kill larger carnivores, which the black-footed cats scavenge
-Overgrazing by livestock, which reduces their prey base
-Poisoning of locusts, which are eaten by the cats in huge numbers
-Killing by domestic dogs, which are used to chase or dig out jackals

With their population rapidly declining, this field project is vitally important so we can learn how to reverse this trend.

Why We Need You

To study these nocturnal little felines, first you have to find them at night, in the vast desert. Team members drive a nightly route of up to 50 miles (80 km) along dirt roads at a speed under 18 mph (30 km) per hour while looking for the characteristic bright blue eye-shine of the cats. A minimum of two people stand on the open back of the vehicle operating two spotlights.

The project’s old 4×4 truck is on it’s last tires. With nearly 400,000 km of looking for black-footed cats on the odometer, it is spending more time in the costly repair shop than on the road.

When this truck stops working, the project stops learning about the cats. A new vehicle would cost more than $40,000 US but with your help, we can keep the cats under focus for half that price!


This is your chance to help us make a difference for these smallest of wild cats, and we ask for your support. Even if you’re not in a position to make a donation, please help us spread the word. Tell your friends, tell your family, share it on your social media, shout it from the rooftops, hire a skywriter… OK maybe not the last one, but you get the idea. Pass it on, and encourage your friends to do the same!

Please share this campaign wherever you can, and let everyone know you stand as a voice for the smallest of wild cats. Together, we CAN make a difference!

Help  Save Africa’s Smallest Wild Cat 


Puma of Patagonia Video

The Cougar or Mountain Lion of North America is known as Puma in South America. The range of this big cat extends from The Yukon in Canada down to the tip of the Americas, and their appearance varies from the north to the south. This is an amazing video of the most southerly cats!

YouTube Preview Image

In April of 2014, Thomas D. Mangelsen traveled to Patagonia to photograph wild pumas. Join him on this “Wild Encounter” with the greatest cat of the Americas!

The amazing ears of the Caracal

Desert and grassland carnivores of all kinds rely heavily on their superb hearing to survive. Hunting over vast open distances, it is essential that they be able to hear the squeaks and chirps of their prey so they know which direction to go.

In this wonderful video from The Smithsonian, we learn that the Caracal uses 20 muscles – in three distinct groups – to independently control each of those large tufted ears. They act as super sensitive parabolic sound antennas, and the long tufts at the tips are thought to enhance their hearing by funneling sounds into the ears.

The Caracal is also famous for their impressive leaps straight into the air, swatting birds in flight at the same time. They are truly remarkable hunters.

YouTube Preview Image


posted in: Cats in the wild | 0

Wildlife is in crisis. Poaching is out of control.

  • 97% of the tiger population has been killed in the last 100 years
  • 35,000 elephants are killed each year, more than are being born
  • 5000% increase in rhino poaching in the last ten years

United for Wildlife is fighting the illegal wildlife trade with some powerful friends. Join their side and help spread the word.





YouTube Preview Image

No Canada Lynx Recovery Plan Until 2018

CP_LA108-69_2014_203210_lowBILLINGS, Mont. – U.S. wildlife officials revealed Monday that they expect to complete a recovery plan for imperilled Canada lynx in early 2018 — almost two decades after the snow-loving wild cats first received federal protections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laid out that timetable in court documents filed as part of a federal lawsuit in Montana brought by environmentalists unhappy with prior delays.

Lynx were designated a federally protected threatened species in 2000. Since then, federal officials have repeatedly missed their own deadlines to start work on a plan to help the animals. Officials have blamed budget limitations, other species that took priority and lawsuits that challenged the government’s designation of critical habitat for the animals.

In the Lower 48 states, lynx are rarely seen across a 14-state range that includes portions of the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon. There is no reliable estimate of its population size.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy last month expressed frustration with the government’s progress on the recovery document and gave officials 30 days to craft a schedule. He said the “stutter-step” approach taken to date by the agency necessitated court intervention.

The lawsuit was brought last year by Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and the San Juan Citizens Alliance. They have argued that the government should be pushing ahead on the habitat and recovery issues simultaneously to keep the lynx from edging closer to extinction.

The groups’ attorney, Matthew Bishop, on Monday criticized the latest schedule offered by the government.

“Asking for nearly four additional years to complete a long overdue recovery plan — without any interim deadlines for completing a draft plan or updates to ensure progress is being made — seems unreasonable to me,” Bishop said.

In a written declaration filed with the court, a senior federal wildlife official said the additional time is needed because of budget constraints and staffing issues.

Complicating the work is the lynx’s huge range and the uncertain role that climate change could play in its survival, said Michael Thabault, assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The scale, scope and complexity of this plan factor in our proposed timeline,” Thabault said.

A response from the plaintiffs in the case is due in 15 days.

Canada Lynx Research Using Remote Cameras

Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) detection and behaviour using remote cameras during the breeding season

Shannon M. Crowley, Dexter P. Hodder, Karl W. Larsen
YouTube Preview Image


The efficacy of surveys in detecting Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) can vary considerably by geographic area. We conducted surveys using digital passive infrared trail video-cameras from January to April 2013, during the breeding season of the Canada Lynx, in the John Prince Research Forest in central British Columbia. We used snow-track surveys to test the efficacy of our camera surveys. We measured trail camera detection rates by survey week and location and we noted Canada Lynx activity and behaviours recorded by the cameras. The detection rate increased between January and April, reaching a peak of 8 Canada Lynx/100 camera-days in early April. Canada Lynx spent more time at camera sites displaying behaviours such as scent-marking and cheek-rubbing in late March. The combination of both snow-track and trail camera surveys was especially effective, with Canada Lynx detected at 77% of all monitored sites. Depending on survey objectives, it may be beneficial to conduct camera as well as other non-invasive survey methods for Canada Lynx during the breeding season, when survey efficacy and detection rates are maximized.
YouTube Preview Image


Read the full paper Canadian Field Naturalist Vol 127, No 4 (2013)