The black-footed cat (BFC) (Felis nigripes) is globally and nationally listed as ‘vulnerable’ (Sliwa, et al., 2016; Wilson, et al., 2016). It is one of Africa’s three endemic feline species and the only endemic Felis specie with a highly restricted range in southern Africa (Wilson, 2015; Wilson, et al., 2016). BFCs are the smallest of the African cat species, with South Africa hosting the largest proportion of the geographical distribution (Smithers, 1983; Wilson, 2015).

Initially, the BFC was poorly studied, with few publications and a basic map of its geographical distribution. Recent studies by various authors have provided better insight into the geographical distribution, habitat preferences, population sizes and threats to the species.

It has become evident that the BFC is susceptible to various diseases, including testing seropositive for canine distemper, the feline calici virus and the West Nile virus. In captivity, the BFC develops respiratory diseases; is susceptible to toxoplasmosis, and shows a high prevalence of AA-amyloidosis. The presence of amyloid in a free-ranging BFC was also detected (Terio, et al., 2008).

There has been no comprehensive genetic study of BFCs to date and studies are limited to a small area in the Northern Cape (Silva, pers. com). The wild BFC populations tested by the Black-footed Cat Working Group (BFCWG) indicated that little inbreeding appeared to have taken place (Wilson, 2015)

PHASA Participation and Support

PHASA has supported the project in that the PHASA Foundation manages the funding provided for the project by funders, as well as contributing to the purchase and use of equipment provided by the PHASA Foundation. Professional Hunters associated with the project also provide distribution records when encountering BFCs. We have received an amount of R88 709.33 from outside investors.

Purpose of the Project

The aim of the project is to determine the conservation status of the BFC in Mpumalanga, and establish a monitoring framework that provides reliable data on population trends on a provincial scale.

The project has the following objectives.

  1. Conducting distributional studies across the Mpumalanga distributional range
  2. Estimating population densities and determining home-range sizes
  3. Long-term monitoring of population trends
  4. Identifying threats to the species and determining measures to mitigate threats
  5. Assessing the BFC genetic diversity in Mpumalanga
  6. Determining habitat characteristics required by the

Ideally, five BFCs will be collared to determine movements and areas occupied. Camera traps can provide insight into density and the number of animals present.

To get involved or for more information contact

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