It’s no wonder researchers persisted on finding these elusive animals for four long years. Just look at them!
Panthera, the wild cat conservation group, has finally documented sand cat kittens in the wild for the first time ever. Taken in the Moroccan Sahara, the images show three adorable kittens – estimated to be six to eight weeks old – hiding near their burrow while waiting for mum to come home from hunting.
According to the group, the small felines live in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. They’re really good at stealth, which has made tracking them much harder.
“Finding sand cats (Felis margarita) in their natural range… is difficult,” said Panthera France’s Gregory Breton.
“They barely leave any visible pugmarks, they don’t leave behind remains of their prey, and their vocalizations are quiet. They move stealthily at dusk, night, and dawn, they’re good at hiding, and their fur provides perfect camouflage when they want to vanish from observers and threats.”
Breton and his colleague Dr Alexander Sliwa were able to photograph the cats after spotting their bright green eyes glowing at night. They later put a tracker on the litter’s mum too so they can study and monitor the family.
If you’re thinking of wanting one as a pet, don’t. While sand cats are listed as endangered yet, their species is already threatened by habitat loss and the exotic pet trade. Surely you wouldn’t want these adorable kittens to go extinct, right?
“As a result of our footage, some individuals have expressed the desire to catch and keep sand cats at home ― a practice that is in direct opposition to our goal of creating awareness and protection for the species in the wild,” Breton told HuffPost.
“It’s important to remember that sand cats are a wild cat species that should not be captured from the wild or interbred to make hybrids with domestic house cats.”