Monday 26 February 2018

Is the African Wild Cat Endangered?

According to the 'experts', the African wildcat is not endangered. The conservation status of this small wild cat species is "Least Concern" with a declining population. As the population is decreasing then no doubt in the future the status will become more precarious, heading gradually towards endangerment in the long term.

African wildcat - photo in public domain
 One complication about writing this post is that the group of experts charged with assessing the conservation status of species of animals and plants, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, ball together several subspecies of wild cat (Felis Sylvestris) and do not distinguish between the African wildcat which itself could be divided between the North African and South African wild cat or the Scottish wild cat as far as I can tell (they do refer to the Chinese mountain cat separately). And therefore when I mention above that the classification is "Least Concern" I'm referring to a group of subspecies of wild cat. Note: there is an ongoing discussion about the classification of the wildcat.

And don't forget that I'm discussing a particular species are wild cat. Another complication is the name of this cat. It is the same name given to all wild cats including the tiger and lion. But the "wild cat" or "wildcat" is a definitive species and in the same bracket or family of cats as the domestic cat.

To conclude, the African wildcat is not endangered but in due course no doubt it will be. Incidentally, the full range of classifications regarding conservation of species is: extinct (fully extinct both in the wild and otherwise), extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, least concern.

You can see therefore that the African wildcat is at the very end of the range of conservation statuses: the best and where the assessment is that the cat is not under pressure or under a conservation threat. An interesting aspect about this species of wild cat is that there has been a lot of hybridization due to breeding with domestic cats and therefore it may be the case that there are very few purebred African wildcats in Africa or Asia.

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