World’s most elusive wild cat spotted for the first time in a decade in Algeria

World’s most elusive wild cat spotted for the first time in a decade in Algeria
One of the world's only photos of the Saharan CheetahWCS

  • The Saharan cheetah, also known as the world’s most elusive cat, has been spotted for the first time in a decade, according to national park authorities in Algeria.
  • The last time it was officially caught on camera was in 2010.
  • Estimates by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicate that only 37 Saharan cheetahs remain worldwide.
The Saharan cheetah is the world’s most elusive cat and it hasn’t been seen in over ten years, until now. Salah Amokrane, a national parks official, told the local news, that the cheetah was spotted in Algeria’s Hoggar Mountains — a highland region in the world’s largest desert.

The last time the Saharan cheetah was seen was in 2010 by a team of researchers travelling through the Ahaggar Cultural Park in Algeria, looking for signs that the Saharan cheetah still existed. Luckily, they were able to spot five mature individuals using camera traps.

This may be the first time in 10 years that park officials have spotted the elusive wild cat, however, in 2015, conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Zoological Society of London also shared a picture, seen above.

But since, there has been silence — until now. The images of the cheetah will be shown in a documentary released on the work of the scientists in the national park. They show the Saharan cheetah in the Atakor volcanic field, which includes peeks that approach heights of 3,000 metres.

Only 37 Saharan cheetahs remain
The Sahara desert may look like an empty expanse of extreme climate encompassing nearly ten million square kilometres as it stretches across the African continent, but it’s actually full of rare animals. Not just the Desert Monitor or the Scarab Beetle, as often depicted in Hollywood films, but also the Saharan cheetah.

The Saharan cheetah is different from its other counterparts with a paler colour and shorter coat. It's more nocturnal and occurs at much lower densities than than other cheetahs in Africa. Only 37 individuals are estimated to be in existence with isolated pockets across the Sahara and Sahel, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The area stretches from Mali in the west to the Central African Republic in the east.

The cheetah, at large, is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List with only around 6,600 present worldwide. For them, Africa is home. However, many have been driven to the edge of extinction by hunting, trapping, war, civil unrest and other man-made threats.

Similar threats also face other endangered species in the Sahara desert including the Desert Antelope, the Addax, and Dama. The Sahara’s once vibrant wildlife has been a dramatic dip in as the 20th century unfolds.

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