• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Felid, Bale mountains Ethiopia, November 2019 (1 Viewer)

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Good evening,

I would be interested in any informed opinions on this felid photographed at approx 3200m above sea level, south of Dinsho, Ethiopia. The animal was present along the main route onto the plateau, not too far from Fincha Habera Waterfall, but a long way from any settlements.

I can only find this single photograph, but I will check my memory cards again.

Thank you

P1020427.JPG
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
How far is "a long way"? It's a healthy well-fed cat with quite a coat on it - but you say it's in mountain habitat where the fur might be thicker. It's got a fair bit of white on its face below the lips and a small patch on the throat but in a legitimate place IIRC. The ears look a bit small but that might also be a montane adaptation maybe? Leg striping looks maybe OK, flank pattern broken up a bit but they can be quite concolorous on the flanks.

Tail might not help much on an African Wildcat because it's tapered, not bushy and blunt like a European. What bands I can see look OK ventrally, but it's the dorsal view that counts.

My gut says it's probably all right. Hopefully someone else will comment.

John
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Thanks John, probably 3km from the nearest occupied building. I have to admit I didn't see any other felids in the area with the exception of Serval.
I've not been able to find a lot of information on the ID criteria - dark bands on long legs and reddish or brownish behind the ears - what are the field marks considered kosher for wildcat?
 

jurek

Well-known member
It is hard to say because a tabby domestic cat and an African wildcat have identical coloration - domestic cats descend from African wildcats.
I would ask locally (your guide?) if people commonly keep domestic cats in the area and how they look like. 3 km from a village is normal for a domestic cat, too. A truly wild animal is usually more lean, but cats in the mountains can be more fluffy.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
African Wildcats look quite long legged and slim,unlike this one, this is one we had in Kruger.
 

Attachments

  • African Wildcat.jpg
    African Wildcat.jpg
    222.7 KB · Views: 28

Farnboro John

Well-known member
African Wildcats look quite long legged and slim,unlike this one, this is one we had in Kruger.
Interesting that this one shows much the same coat details as the Bale Mountains one, including a sort of spotty flank rather than striped. Given that the OP's cat is (a) up in mountains where the habitat differs substantially and (b) crouched, not fully extended, I think it's difficult to judge its structure.

As for the length of coat, look at zoo Meerkats sometime. They are a lot furrier than TV wild ones, and that's not natural selection, its just the beast's ability to vary coat according to conditions. And a long coat makes animals look bulky.

Mind you, I agree with Jurek that 3km is nothing to a cat.

John
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Can't rule out domestic cat on this view (or perhaps any view), but this looks +/- identical to the African wildcat we saw at buffalo springs recently.

I disagree that they always appear long-legged: my dim memories of seeing them years ago in ? Masai Mara was they weren't especially so.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Can't rule out domestic cat on this view (or perhaps any view), but this looks +/- identical to the African wildcat we saw at buffalo springs recently.

I disagree that they always appear long-legged: my dim memories of seeing them years ago in ? Masai Mara was they weren't especially so.
Most of the images here which are clearly, pure, AWC, have a much longer legged appearance than those with domestic moggy in their lineage.

 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Most of the images here which are clearly, pure, AWC, have a much longer legged appearance than those with domestic moggy in their lineage.

I followed your link and found that cats that at least superficially look close to the OP's cat are labelled by the photographers as AWC.

Plus I had another grill of the OP's photo and determined that it looks as if the only difference in structure between that and the majority of your linked photos is down to its thick coat, which reduces the apparent height of the ears and adds both bulk and depth to what is actually a thin tubular body of exactly the right appearance for AWC. Looking at the tail, like most of the AWC photos it shows only a few far distal rings on a narrowing, tapered tail. There's a nice pic of an AWC crouched in a tree that looks exactly the same.

Frankly the more I look at this the closer it looks to AWC.

John
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Thanks all for your feedback, it has been most interesting.
Unfortunately, this is the only image I have, so will probably be unresolved/a probable.
I perhaps should have been clearer with regards to the "occupied building" as this was a mud shelter used by local herdsmen - the nearest houses/village were approx 7km away - not impossible for a domestic cat, but challenging terrain and more than a few hyena and other apex predators around.
I've posted on twitter where I've mostly received positive feedback, but a few others with more experience than I could muster in a lifetime have said it is probably impossible to rule out a hybrid.
I must admit I was a bit sceptical at the time, but my OH (who is definitely more into mammals) flagged it up and insisted we watch it hunting - her suspicions are usual correct!
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
Not a great photo I'm afraid, it didn't hang around when it saw us, but here's a photograph of a wildcat that I was happy with from I guess about the same area. It was certainly seen on the first day of our walk from Dinsho to the plateau.
 

Attachments

  • wild cat-20190408-092636.jpg
    wild cat-20190408-092636.jpg
    2.4 MB · Views: 30

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
It was certainly giving views or you have one hell of a lens. This is the best that I have managed, and I'm in double figures, which was from a car in Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park.
 

Attachments

  • wildcat.jpg
    wildcat.jpg
    712 KB · Views: 18

Farnboro John

Well-known member
It was certainly giving views or you have one hell of a lens. This is the best that I have managed, and I'm in double figures, which was from a car in Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park.
This is an interesting one, not so leggy as some, spotty rear flanks and haunches (same on your previous pic Steve) and only distal rings on the tail. I don't doubt its an African Wildcat though. They just aren't the same as European Wildcats.

I'd say this one is really quite supportive of the OP's identification of his cat as AWC.

John
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
The second one pretty well has to be one in the middle of Kgalagadi; I guess it is possible that my first one could be domestic/feral or hybrid. With European wildcats I go on the theory it it looks like one and acts like one, I'm not too stressed if great grandad was a tabby. I suspect a lot of the ones in northern Spain have some domestic stock in them.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
This is an interesting one, not so leggy as some, spotty rear flanks and haunches (same on your previous pic Steve) and only distal rings on the tail. I don't doubt its an African Wildcat though. They just aren't the same as European Wildcats.

I'd say this one is really quite supportive of the OP's identification of his cat as AWC.

John
Two, completely different structures on those, even the tail.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
The second one pretty well has to be one in the middle of Kgalagadi; I guess it is possible that my first one could be domestic/feral or hybrid. With European wildcats I go on the theory it it looks like one and acts like one, I'm not too stressed if great grandad was a tabby. I suspect a lot of the ones in northern Spain have some domestic stock in them.
I'd have to agree with that. A friend of mine went there on a tour that advertised that there were no hybrids present and the first one he sent me a pic of I responded to (rather too sarcastically but he's used to me) with "what did you bait it with, a saucer of milk?" That actually made him concentrate and later in the trip he saw cats that as you say, looked right.

Cheers

John
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
I'd have to agree with that. A friend of mine went there on a tour that advertised that there were no hybrids present and the first one he sent me a pic of I responded to (rather too sarcastically but he's used to me) with "what did you bait it with, a saucer of milk?" That actually made him concentrate and later in the trip he saw cats that as you say, looked right.

Cheers

John
I've got photos clearly showing hybrid features.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

Users who are viewing this thread

Top