31 July 2018

African Wildcat – Abha area

Whilst out spotlighting in the Abha area recently I came across an African (Arabian) Wildcat where it was seen hunting high up in an area of large boulders. The subspecies of African Wildcat that occurs in Arabia is Felis lybica tristramidistributed from Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan to northern Saudi Arabia. They occur in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, but as far as we are aware has not been previously recorded from the Abha region. They are known to have a broad habitat tolerance from deserts, semi deserts, savannahs, scrub grassland to open forests in hilly and rocky terrain as well as in mixed forests. In some areas of its range it is restricted to mountains and dry watercourses. They have a more upright posture in the sitting position and a different walking form from domestic cat with a background colour ranging from reddish to sandy yellow and is typically marked with faint stripes and spots. Hairs have black tips giving a speckled appearance, their legs are banded with black bars and they have a reddish or rusty-brown tint to the backs of the ears. The long, thin tail ends with two or three black rings and a black tip and there is a line of darker fur down the spine from the shoulder to the base of the tail. The African species distinguishes itself from the European Wildcat by its lighter build, less distinct markings and thin tapering tail. 
African (Arabian) Wildcat