Gray-tailed coat, ring tail, "ghattu-volpe" – "Fox-Cat" in Corsican – quills in their cage. In the Asco forest, two agents from the National Office of Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) show AFP what they think is a new cat species.
"For us, a natural wild species, which was known but not recorded, because it is an extremely discreet animal with nocturnal mothers. It is an extraordinary discovery" is enthusiastic with AFP Pierre Benedetti, chief engineer for ONCFS environment at the site of the prisoner without violence.
This undergrowth of Haute-Corse is available after a 45-minute walk in the rocky and forested landscape of the valley of Asco, where we meet cows and rare hikers
It is in this territory "very steep mountain" on 25,000 hectares, "far from human presence" and where there is "water and a plant protection to protect it from its prime predator, have the royal officer" that the ONCFS identified 1
Once in sleep, the silky-haired cat, which is very similar to the classic domestic cat for uninitiated, is studied by both agents: 90 cm from the head to the end of the tail, ear pavilions "very wide" short whiskers, dogs "very developed". "Tarsus hind legs still very black", "red rust color of the stomach" very important hair density that protects it from fleas, lice or ticks. Tail "with between 2 and 4 rings and always a very black terminal sleeve", "zebra on very characteristic front legs".
The Shepherd's Mythology
"It is their length and tail that earned them the name of fox cat from one end of the island to the others " note Mr Benedetti, who says it has been observed in several Corsican regions.
Equipped with a chip with an identification number in the neck, this male "from 4 to 6 years" was captured several times, has a green eye and a brown eye damaged during a fight with another man.
After these measurements, the feline could leave its GPS collar with 80 days of data.
"For us, history 2008 begins with an unexpected catch of a cat in a chicken cake by Olcani in Cap Corse" says Pierre Benedetti, who spent more than ten years of his life.
"This animal belongs to the mythology of our shepherds, who said these forest cats attacked their sheep and goats' teats and from these stories descended from generation to generation, adds Carlu-Antone Cecchini.
A research program was launched in 2008. In 2012, "furious traps" "allowed to determine its genome". "It has been distinguished by its DNA from the European wild cat – Felis silvestris silvestris, it is close to the African forest cat – Felis silvestris lybica – but its exact identity remains to be determined " says Pierre Benedetti. 19659003] As progress, the traps photographic traps then settle with first prisoners in 2016," true knowledge cape ". The GPS collar also showed its large displacements, up to 2500 meters height.
If mysteries remain particularly about its reproduction and its diet, this cat "can arrive at the time of the second human colonization dating back to 6500 years approximately before our time. The hypothesis is confirmed is its origin Middle East " Advance Pierre Benedetti.
The goal of the environmentalists is that in the next two to four years, "the cat is recognized and protected."
"First, we took the crazy, but today when we show what we have as data are people speechless ", book, satisfied, Carlu-Antone Cecchini. "It was a myth and today it is a reality"