A cat-fox species discovered in Asco forests of Corsica

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Image Courtesy: Agence France-Presse, Getty Image

A new species called ‘ghjattu volpe’ by locals has been discovered on the Mediterranean island in Asco forests of Corsica.

The cat fox or fox cat as it is known is much bigger than a normal house cat with a black-tipped ringtail with either two or four rings. Its ears are wide, short whiskers and razor-sharp teeth. It measures a metre long from its head to the tail and it has stripes on its front legs. Shepherds claim that the feline would attack sheep and goats during dark hours.

According to CNN, “many wildlife rangers from France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office have located 16 of the golden striped creatures in remote areas of the French island”. Scientist state that this the feline’s origin was thousands of years ago in the African Continent or the Middle East. Along with France’s national hunting and wildlife office (ONCFS) a team has accompanied along to reveal that the animal is a new species. “It’s a wonderful discovery. We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” Pierre Benedetti environmental technician ONCFS told AFP.

Since a decade, researchers and scientists have been finding ways to capture these cat-like foxes in a non-violent way, in order to study its features. Since its origin, very few cat-foxes were found globally, however in 2012, through newer methods of researches, the features of this mammal could be studied and understood. “By looking at its DNA, we could tell it apart from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris. It’s close to the African forest cat, Felis silvestris lybica, but its exact identity is still to be determined”, Benedetti told AFP.

.As per reports by the AFP, “ the cat takes rest in the remote regions of the Mediterranean land as water and plant covering for protection is easily available. Its predator is the Golden Eagle and the plants help them to hide under”.  The cat’s behavioural characteristics along with its eating habits and breeding are under research and have not been discovered yet. “The cat-fox is part of our shepherd mythology. From generation to generation, they told stories of how the forest cats would attack the udders of their ewes and goats,” Carlu-Antone Cecchini, field agent of ONCFS told AFP.

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