The French Mediterranean island of Corsica is home to a newly discovered species of cat. The wild animal is extremely rare and mysterious, and it is larger than an ordinary cat.
The animal is a cat-fox cross, with features well defined of a breed between a fox and a cat.
Over the last ten years, researchers have been observing these volatile creatures, and now a team working with France’s national hunting and wildlife office (ONCFS), have announced they assume the cat to be a new species.
There were only small numbers of cats recorded throughout the years, but in 2008, a cat-fox was randomly caught in a chicken coop, which brought back the interest in the strange animals.
Scientists began researching it, and by 2012 new methods of attracting the volatile creature enabled scientists to observe it for the first time. Fragrant lures and posts for the rare animal to rub themselves against granted scientists with fur on which to perform genetic studies. With advanced photographic and later physical traps, the team of researchers caught the first cat-fox back in 2016. Staring with 2016, the team has caught 12 of the total of 16 seen in the region, releasing them after a rapid inspection.
Pierre Benedetti, the chief environmental technician of the ONCFS, told AFP that by observing the cats’ DNA, they could tell it apart from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris. This rare creature is actually closer to the African forest cat, known as Felis silvestris lybica, but its precise identity is still to be established.
The island has only seen 16 of the mysterious cats, as far as records go. The animal has approximately 90 centimeters from head to tail, wider ears and shorter whiskers than the domestic cats we are used to.
According to researchers, in spite of all they know about cats species so far, there is still mystery embracing the feline, for instance, where it comes from, and why it is only found on the island of Corsica.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca