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African Wild Cat

wildlife of Namibia

Introduction: It was in 3,000 BC that the Egyptians domesticated the African wild cat (Felis lybica) to control mice and rats raiding granaries. From these tamed animals, the domestic cat was bred, therefore the similarity between the two. A striking difference between them though is the much longer legs of the wild cat. This allows the it to sit almost vertically upright, a feature not possible with a domestic cat. They also have a completely different walking action. The longer legs and high shoulder blades resemble the movement of a cheetah.

Wild cats readily interbreed with domestic cats and there are few countries that have pure wild cats left. Namibia does not have many domesticated cats, the shortage a clear advantage in maintaining the country's pure-blooded wild cat numbers. With interbreeding, the cats loose the ear colouration and the long legs. They are almost entirely nocturnal creatures and are adept at climbing trees when under stress or for hunting.

Distribution: The African wild cat occurs widely in Namibia except in coastal regions.

Diet: The diet mainly consists of rodents, with mice and gerbils a particular favourite, but they are also partial to birds (e.g. black korhaan, red-billed quelea and weavers, plus poultry such as ducks and chickens), hares, reptiles, frogs and insects.

Colouring: The colouring is light sandy with an indistinct darker band down the mid-back from the forehead to the base of the tail, which is darker than the main body. The back of the ears are orange-pink in colour.

Breeding: The female has a gestation period of 2 months and will then give birth to a litter of between 2 and (mostly 3) 5 kittens. They are born in holes in the ground, and are often excavated out by aardvark or springhaas. Unfortunately, they are not capable of 'digging themselves into a hole'. Occasions of females giving birth in rock crevices, under thick underbush, in tall grass and in the shelter of standing maize have been recorded.

Size: The African wild cat can reach a shoulder height of 35cm and weigh between 2.5 and 6kg.

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Wildlife Namibia

  • African Wildcat: African Wildcat
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