This information is the best way to look differently at your cat Vasya, who is sleeping on the couch right now. The chief specialist of National Geogrpaphic (I work in the Russian office) on wild cats, Christine Dell'Amor, spoke about animals that are very similar to our pets, but, nevertheless, are very different from them: they live in wild forests and are perfect know how to hunt. Here's what he says:
Of the 38 species in the feline family, 31 are small cats. The smallest of them, a spotted red cat, weighs about one and a half kilograms, the largest, an ordinary lynx pulls all 20; they live on four out of six continents (they are not only in Australia and Antarctica) and are perfectly adapted to a variety of habitats - from deserts and rain forests to city parks.
Unfortunately, small representatives of felines are in the shadow of large tribesmen.: lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars. These stars of the animal kingdom are attracting all the attention - and almost all the money of conservation organizations, although of the 18 species of wild felines that are most at risk, 12 are small cats. As a result, many "small" ones are still very poorly studied - or not studied at all. For example, the Kalimantan cat, which rarely catches the eye of people and lives only in the forests of the island after which it received its name, has remained invisible to science for more than one and a half hundred years - since 1858, when it was discovered.
It is also not good for small cats that people tend to perceive them simply as a wild variety of their pets. And as for the favorites, everything seems to be clear. “This contributes to the preservation of the current state of affairs, when our knowledge about small cats is extremely scarce - but if you cannot tell about the characteristics and habits of a cat, then people will not be interested in it,” says Alexander Sliva, curator of the Cologne Zoo.
Not interested, by the way, in vain. Small cats are a true masterpiece of evolution, the most effective predators that reached perfection millions of years ago and have not changed much since then. They make up for the lack of power with desperate courage.
Take, for example, the black-footed cat, the smallest of the African ones. It weighs less than two kilograms, but has earned the nickname "termite mound tiger" - because it lives in abandoned termite mounds, and resembles a tiger in its habits and aggressiveness. If she is threatened, the baby immediately goes on the attack: she can even grab the muzzle of a jackal, which is much larger than her.
The savvy civet cat, aka South Asian fishing cat, is a swamp dweller, but able to survive wherever fish can be found. One day, surveillance cameras in downtown Colombo, Sri Lanka, filmed a fishing cat pulling a carp out of a pond in front of an office center. “We were all amazed,” recalls Anja Ratnayaka, lead researcher for the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project. "There is nothing nearby that looks like a swamp they are used to."
Although some of the small felines are capable of killing a goat or sheep, they are not dangerous to humans. On the contrary, they help preserve the stability of ecosystems and keep the populations of animals that are hunted under control, including many rodents.