Photo: A sand cat moves across its home turf. Credit: WikiMedia Commons/Payman sazesh
An Arabian sand cat (Felis margarita harrisoni) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been seen for the first time in 10 years, according to New Scientist.
The rare, secretive creature and expert nocturnal hunter is listed as "near threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "red list" of threatened species.
A 2015 camera trap survey, and subsequent published study, by scientist Shakeel Ahmed, of The Environment Agency, resulted in dozens of photographs of three individuals.
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Sand cats live in desert environments of central and southwest Asia and North Africa. They can handle the hot and cold temperature swings of those settings and will even burrow into sand dunes to stay cool. They have fur on their foot pads, which means they don't leave good tracks in the sand. That makes even more difficult any attempts to study the elusive animal, which is simply very good at not being seen.
The animals look a lot like domestic cats and will weigh around 4 to 8 pounds. They stand about a foot tall and are around 3 feet long.
The rare animals are losing habitat as well as food sources.
"Scientists need to be doing more research on how the sand cats live in order to create a suitable protected area," the Sahara Conservation Fund's John Newby told New Scientist.
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