Monthly Archives: July 2015

R.I.P. Blacky, our beloved male black-footed cat ambassador

With incredible sadness, and sorrow, we have to share with you the sad passing of our male black-footed cat Blacky, due to incurable kidney failure.

(picture: last time Blacky did enjoy his fresh meal)

blacky ripThe passing of Blacky not only is a huge personal loss for us, WCW management and caretaker, but also a major blow to (our) black-footed cat conservation (projects). Black-footed cats are one of the most vulnerable cat species and above that very difficult to keep, but also breed in captivity and in the wild (well they do breed but not many kittens do survive, also not in the wild). Every individual is essential. Apart from the threat in their natural habitat, the smallest (wild) cat of South Africa (also called: Small Spotted cats) already got extinct in all European zoos, and have a very limited gene pool in U.S.A. (all cats are at this point somehow related).

In South Africa very few places do have black-footed cats, and almost no kittens seem to survive and make it to adulthood. Apart from the decreasing natural habitat, and the threats by bigger predators like jackal and not to forget farmers who often capture the small cats to trade or kill, lots of black-footed cats do end up in captivity. We can almost say with certainty that most of them are captured in the wild. Apart from Diva (who was captive born, but her parents without doubt were wild), also Blacky, Beauty and (r.i.p.) Footy are wildborns and ended up in our project at the DCP farm injured as farmers had gintraps on their farm. Luckily the mentioned black-footed did thrive well in our project, only 3-legged Footy did pass away a few years ago.

We got in touch with Cat Conservation Trust (CCT) who had lost all their black-footed cats (also a lot to amyloidosis, the feared bfc kidney disease) after years of breeding and keeping of the species. We decided to bring our cats over to them (temporarily) to see if they could do some more successful breeding with our ambassadors. Blacky and both females (Beauty and Diva) did do a great job. Beauty gave birth to a kitten, and Diva gave birth to 3 kittens. Sadly at the crucial age of 2,3 months all kittens didn’t seem fit enough to survive. As some “expert” one time said: this species is meant to get extinct!!! Sometimes it looks like that, but we refuse to already give up on them. But without our one male, Blacky, this won’t be easy.

There was reason for concern about Blacky’s health for some time already. At CCT they already noticed him drinking too much (bfc hardly ever drink), and a few times he was brought to a vet, and the last time kidney failure was a major issue. Blacky did eat but not as much as he should and did before, and he lost weight. Two weeks ago Blacky and the females arrived back “home” and though he seemed ok, his condition (weigth loss) already gave us a big worry, but also the change in his behaviour. From a very fierce little boy he now almost seemed tame. This wasn’t right and the alarm bells were ringing even more noticing this. Problem is that kidney failure (and amyloidosis) is incurable, and capturing black-footed cats and have them checked by a vet (being tranquilized) is doing no good, can in fact decrease the condition rapidly.

So when our caretaker over the weekend shared her concerns with us another time, and we were very shocked about his looks and the fact that he was “openly drinking” we were thinking how to deal with this…..Sadly Betty, our caretaker, found him dead in the enclosure the next morning already, so there wasn’t time to actually try and do something then being devastated, for the loss of Blacky but also partly of our project, but we could be happy that the suffering for Blacky was over, and he died peacefully, back home, with his two beloved females Beauty and Diva close by. They are doing fine, and are our first priority of course.

At the same time we are in touch about a male coming to us on a breeding loan for a while, and it looks hopeful, but nothing has been decided yet. If there’s no way we can continue the breeding project, the education and awareness part of our black-footed cat conservation project will of course continue, as well as the best care for Beauty and Diva, and we hope they will stay healthy for a long time to come to be essential ambassadors for their species!!!!

R.I.P. Blacky, we will for sure miss you!!!

Welcome Max, African wildcat male

Today (July 20, 2015) we had a new arrival at WCW, “all the way” from CCT (Cat Conservation Trust), male Max arrived. He was glad to be out of the transportbox, and started exploring his new territory (or for now just part of it) straight on. Of course his mind was set on neighbourgirls Sid and Louise right away. We let them first get used to each other’s presence with fence in between, and when all goes in peace and harmony we will open up for them all to share all available space.

Max is born Feb12 2013 and he is a brother of Sid. 1-SAM_5730aWhen Sid is on heat she and her brother will be seperated of course. Biggest threat to African wildcats, the pure genes and bloodline, is hybridisation. Domestic cats are threatening the genetic integrity of the wildcats. Max, Sid and Louise all have pure wildcat genes and are no hybrids, which makes them essential ambassadors for the African wildcat species.

Welcome home to our black-footed cat ambassadors Blacky, Beauty and Diva

As part of a conservation and breeding project for the endangered black footed cats (felis negripes), our 3 ambassadors Blacky, Beauty and Diva were temporarily relocated to Cats Conservation Trust.  Now we all agreed it was time for them to move back “home” again, and back in our (WCW) care. Firstly the two B’s arrived home safely, and it seemed they recognised their first home where they already lived for quite some time before moving to CCT for a joint venture. For Diva this place is new as when we got her she immediately moved to CCT, arriving there before the two others. All three are thriving well and Blacky is calling for the females already. He and Beauty are together, but with Diva as close neighbour Blacky will have lots of enriching smells around him. Hopefully he will be as productive as last year, but a better survival rate of the kittens we hope. Black footed cats are a rare and endangered species, the smallest cat of South Africa, second smallest of the world, very difficult to keep and breed. We are very proud that we have three ambassadors in our project, and will continue the conservation and breeding program to give the species all possible support.  We will keep you up-dated about them!


Some additional info about the black-footed cat (or: small spotted cat):

The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and is ranked as the most vulnerable of the sub-Saharan cat species by the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. Despite its current conservation status, the black-footed cat has received very little attention by the conservation community. In fact, a single study of their basic ecology represents the only detailed information available for this species in the wild. Critical information such as the species’ current distribution and the existence of distinct sub-species is still unknown. As natural habitat disappears, populations of black-footed cats may become genetically isolated, which may impact the reproductive success of the species. In addition, wild carnivores are coming into contact with an increasing number of domestic dogs and cats carrying a variety of diseases. 75% of all deaths in black-footed cats in human care are due to kidney failure, with amyloidodis as the most common cause. It is still unclear whether this incidence of amyloidosis reflects the genetic predisposition of the species or an adverse effect of the ex situ environment.

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Featured Ambassador

Featured Project

Black Footed Cats Conservation Project

WCW started this conservation project on the DCP farm in Spotted Cats Conservation, with three wild black-footed cats, Beauty, Blacky and Footy. All three cats were injured by traps and could not be released into the wild. They were given a great home as well as the necessary treatment by the vet.

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