Sept. 2009 – The sand cat range or distribution is shown in the customised map below, which is based accurately on the most up to date one currently available, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) map. The map can be scrolled horizontally or vertically or moved by dragging it inside the window by left clicking and moving the mouse. You can also zoom in and out using the controls. The range extends from Uzbekistan in the east to Western Sahara in the west and so cannot be viewed as a whole without zooming out.
The original of this map is a Google My Map. It can be found here: Sand Cat Range (opens in a new window).
Despite the Red List being probably the best map available there is a lot of uncertainty about its accuracy from the Red List team. You only have to read their description, “it is not clear…”, “no historical records…”, “it is supposed to occur”…etc. . There have been sightings in places such as Tunisia and Libya but no specimens collected (perhaps a good thing actually).
There clearly is little research going on and not much concern for this small wild cat. It’s protection is the remoteness and inhospitable nature of it habitat, which helps to keep people out.
What is known is that this cat is the only felid found mainly in “true desert”. What is it like on the ground in the areas where it is found? It is difficult to find good material of the areas inside the sand cat range because I suppose few people with recording equipment go there. However, the videos below give a nice feel of the two countries that are almost totally covered by the sand cat range, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. These countries are little visited by westerners at present and not much comes out of these countries that show the landscape. But they are relatively under populated by people which explains why the sand cat is there :
The range includes areas that contain:
- sparsely vegetated ridges in desert areas where gerbils are also found and
- flat and open sandy ground with tufts of grass and sparse and small bushes
Just by way of speculation I wonder if the sand cat now occupies those parts of the Aral Sea that have become desert due to over use of water. Large parts of the sea have dried up leaving what appears to be perfect terrain for the sand cat:
The range embraces these countries:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- Western Sahara
- Afghanistan (uncertain)
- Chad (uncertain)
- Iraq (uncertain)
- Libya (uncertain)
- Mali (uncertain)
- Qatar (uncertain)
- Senegal (uncertain)
- Sudan (uncertain)
- Tunisia (uncertain)
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- Red List
- Wild Cats Of The World – Sunquists