The Southern African wildcat (Felis lybica cafra ) is an African wildcat subspecies. In 2007, it was tentatively recognized as a distinct subspecies on the basis of genetic analysis. It is also known in English as the 'bush cat'.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Predators are animals that kill and eat other organisms, their prey. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often conceal...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The body of the Southern African wildcat is marked with vertical stripes but these can vary from faint to quite distinct. The tail is ringed with black and has a black tip. The chin and throat are white and the chest is usually paler than the rest of the body. The feet are jet black underneath. There are two color phases; iron-grey, with black and whitish speckling, and tawny-grey, with less black and more buffy speckling. In appearance, it is very similar to a domestic cat, although the legs are proportionately longer. The most distinguishable characteristic is the rich reddish-brown color on the backs of the ears, over the belly, and on the back legs.
Southern African wildcats are widespread throughout Africa south of the equator, but they do not occur along the Namibian coast. They live in a wide range of habitats that provide some sort of cover; these include forests, woodlands, bushland, savannahs, steppes, and semi-desert regions.
Southern African wildcats are largely nocturnal and prefer to rest in cover during the day. They are solitary, except for mating and raising their young, and they are highly territorial. The territory of a male typically overlaps with several females. African wildcats are adaptable predators and are able to change their diet according to seasonal and longer-term prey abundances and availability. They have acute hearing and can locate prey precisely. They approach prey by patiently crawling forward and using vegetation to hide. When confronted, African wildcats raise their hair to make themselves seem larger in order to intimidate their opponent.
South African wildcats are carnivores and mainly hunt small rodents. They may also take other small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other invertebrates. They rarely drink water.
Little is known about the reproductive behavior of Souther African wildcats. In general, female African wildcats give birth to 3-5 kittens after the gestation period of 56-60 days. They give birth and raise young in dens hidden in dense grass, in burrows, or in hollow trees. The kittens open their eyes after about 10-14 days and are mobile at the age of one month. At around 3 months of age, they start learning hunting techniques from their mothers. They leave their family and become independent at the age of around 6 months of age.
The main threat to the survival of the Southern African wildcat is its tendency to crossbreed with domestic cats near human habitations. Other serious threats include persecution by hunters and farmers, as well as habitat loss.
Presently, the South African wildcat is not included in the IUCN Red List and its conservation status has not been evaluated. Generally, the African wildcat species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.