Network of corridors to protect the European wildcat

Posted on August 31, 2008. Filed under: Africa, animals, Biological Station of Euskirchen, biology, BUND, Carpathian Mountains, cats, conservation, Doñana Biological Station, domestic cats, Earth, Earthlings, environment, Europe, European wildcat, fauna, Felidae, felines, Felis silvestris silvestris, France, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, League for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germ, nature, North Africa, OEKO-LOG field research, random, Rheinland-Pfalz, science, Spain, Spanish Council for Scientific Research, the Balkans, the E.U., wild animals, wildcats, wildlife, zoology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

An international team of researchers has proposed a network of corridors linking the habitats of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) to help this endangered species survive in its homeland. Read this article for more information.

Felis silvestris silvestris is a shy creature but is a born hunter like other cats . . .


The European wildcat is a native of Europe that has been roaming the forests of the continent long before domestic cats were brought to Europe from North Africa. It looks very similar to the domesticated cat though they are not closely related. Their tails can most easily differentiate the two species: the stockier wildcat has got bushier hair there and more clearly defined dark rings. Mice serve as their main source of food. The German state of Rheinland-Pfalz is home to over half the estimated German wildcat population (between 3000 to 5000). Apart from Germany, the European wildcat survives in the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkans, Spain and France.

German and Spanish researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Doñana Biological Station of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, OEKO-LOG field research and the Biological Station in Euskirchen have developed a model to identify the natural habitats of these cats and possible corridors to help isolated populations to mingle. The research was done by fitting radio-transmitters to twelve wildcats.

The wildcat is known to be a shy creature. The team discovered that they try to keep a safe distance from human settlements. Within a radius of one kilometre from human settlements, they were difficult to find. In the case of isolated human dwellings and roads, they try to maintain a safe distance of two hundred metres. This protects it from humans and their dogs and from being killed by motor vehicles and also prevents interbreeding with domesticated cats.

A project called “rescue network wildcat” was started by BUND (the League for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany). Their mission is to develop a network comprising of corridors of some 20,000 kilometres over the coming years – the equivalent of half of the German Federal highway network.

With these efforts, the wildcats are being helped to return to areas which were once the home of their ancestors. Many more projects like this are needed throughout the world for members of the genus Felidae if we don’t want future generations to be left with only domestic cats.

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