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Category Archive Wild cats blog

When Murphy’s law works in your favor

Murphy’s law in short is that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. If one thing goes wrong, the next thing will go wrong as well. For example when you’re in de supermarket and you happen to pick just that line that moves the slowest, when you try to pay you find out your bank account has been blocked and your car is just being towed when you exit the supermarket. Then you’re not having your best day. It can also happen the other way around: a day that starts well only gets better. When you are looking for nice animals you might just be familiar with Murphy’s law. There are those days when you don’t manage to find anything good and it quickly feels like Murphy has got it in for you. Luckily there are also days, scarce ones though (!), on which everything seems to go well. Those days make up for a lot that earlier went wrong.

Quest for the strangest cat in the world!

If there is one cat that doesn’t look like a cat at first glance it’s the jaguarundi. Because of the longish head with elongated body and short legs this cat appears more like a mustelid than a cat. Still it really is a cat and if you manage to find a flattering picture of it a pretty cute one too! This cat is quite widespread in Latin-America but it is nowhere easy to see. Some areas offer higher chances then others, but often seeing a jaguarundi is a chance encounter and most of the time they are seen crossing the road in front of the car.

A glimpse of a Flat-headed Cat

Three days I have planned at the Kinabatanganriver. My target here is to see Proboscis Monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) and I also hope to have a better look at an Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). Apart from that I will be going out with a guide to try to see the Bornean Ground-Cuckoo (Carpococcyx radiceus). However I also have another target in mind: Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps)! This cat gets seen near this river, however usually for that to happen the water level has to be low and that’s not the case right now. The first two night I’m there, I put in my best effort and hope for the best, but in the last night I’m not expecting anything at all anymore.

Sunda Leopard Cat

The Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis) has recently been split by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. For me this was one of the least difficult cats I ever searched for. They also get reported on pretty much every tripreport if people searched in the right areas for mammals. I saw my first in Danum Valley, but that went a bit fast. Luckily in Deramakot there were many good sightings.

Headlights in the mist

‘Shall we drink some coffee?’ ‘No, let’s wait a bit longer’. There are those little things that cause you to be in a certain place at a certain time. A short stop because it rains and you want to put on some raingear, waiting for a second to check out some eyeshine just in case it’s something more exciting than a flying squirrel and indeed waiting a bit longer for some coffee. All those things can make the difference between just missing out on a species and having a spectacular sighting.

Already a succesful trip: Marbled cat!

When I’m going on a trip I always try to estimate somewhat realistically what is possible. Of course there is also some room for a bit of wishful thinking. The big target for me in Borneo was to get as much new cat species as possible, but I knew that that could be very difficult. There is only one cat easy on Borneo and that’s Sunda leopardcat (Prionailurus javanensis). After that it gets hard! There are five species of cat that live on Borneo. The already mentioned Sunda leopardcat (Prionailurus javanensis), Marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps) the big one Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) and the most rare Bay Cat (pardofelis badia). In regard to that last one I knew it would be pretty much impossible to see, but also every single one of the other cats would be very diffcult to see. So i had decided for myself that my trip would be a success if I had seen a Sunda leopardcat (Prionailurus javanensis) plus one of the other cats.

Torres del Puma’s!

Two years ago I already started planning this trip, I always wanted to do a long trip when I would be finished studying. In that time my ideas about the planning of the trip have continually changed, but eventually there was a plan! Now the time is finally there: a trip of three months through South-America had started! My plan is to visit three countries: Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Of course one goal is to work on my cat list, but I also want to improve my Spanish and I’ve got my eye on a few birds. The trip starts at the most Southern airfield of Chile: Punta Arenas. The destination of this part of the trip is Torres del Paine, a park that is supposed to be the best place in the world to see puma’s.

The night is dark and (sometimes) full of animals!

We’re in the Western Sahara searching for a Sand Cat. You can read more about that here. The way to see it is to drive the road between Dakhla and Aousserd up and down at night and then spotlight in the desert hoping to encounter a Sand Cat or another nocturnal animal.

Sweating for a Sand Cat

My worldcatlist has after my visit of Botswana, Namibia and South-Africa reached the impressive number of four! So there is still enough room for improvement! A cat on which I’ve had my eye  for quite some time, is the Sand Cat. This is an animal about the size of a house cat with a preference for desert like areas. For some years the most reliable place of seeing it has been the Western Sahara near the town of Dakhla. Together with a fellow Dutchman who also has a special interest in cats, I went over there in early January.

A great afternoon

Today would be our second and final day in Etosha National Park. Alas, we must go on! Of course we hope to get the maximum out of this day at least so we’re standing early at the gates again. We’re all still sleepy from yesterday. About one hundred meters after the entrance we’re wide awake. A lioness is stalking a prey! The prey turns out to be a Springbok. Sadly the stalking takes a long time and because of the dense bushes we lose sight of the animals after a while. So we move on. In the morning we see about the animals we’ve seen already. Just like yesterday we go swimming in Halali. Completely freshened up we go at it for the last time in the afternoon. If any animal is planning on showing itself, now is the time!