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Sand cats © Dr. Alex Silwak for ISEC

Introducing the International Society for Endangered Cats

WILD CATS COME IN ALL SIZES

Rewilding Earth is honored to introduce readers to the International Society for Endangered Cats, a registered Canadian charity based in Calgary, Alberta.

Several Rewilding Earth staff enjoy this website and their newsletter. Though ISEC is not a rewilding organization as such, their studies and information serve to shine a light on endangered wild cats worldwide, all of which are vital to whole, healthy ecosystems. The wild cat family contains 40 species, and three quarters are small wild cats weighing less than 50 pounds. Like winsome sand cats in the featured image, many are about the size of a domestic cat, and the smallest weigh two pounds as an adult.

ISEC’s mission is to aid in the conservation of small (and some larger), wild cat species, through education, public awareness, and support for scientific field projects. None of their staff or directors are paid; ISEC is a completely volunteer organization so 100% of donations and all profits from memberships and product sales go directly to small wild cat conservation. Their work continues with the generous support of members and cat friends around the world.

On their website, ISEC writes that “studying small nocturnal animals is difficult, and there is much to be learned about the little felines. Field research is the scientific study of the daily lives of a species in their natural habitat.” They study where cats are located, how many there are, what they eat, and what threats they face, all information that is needed to design a conservation plan.

Black-footed Cat © Dr. Alex Sliwa for ISEC

Black-footed Cat © Dr. Alex Sliwa for ISEC

Also on their site, ISEC features taxonomy and profiles numerous wild cats by region, such as wild cats of Eurasia including Eurasian and Iberian Lynx, Pallas’ cats, and the Snow Leopard. The Black-footed Cat Project studies one of the smallest wild cats in the world which are found in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. ISEC reports on the status of wild cats and “when a cat is not a cat.” They emphasize that they are vehemently opposed to wild cats as pets and the associated wild animal trade.

In their Ecology and Conservation of Pampas Cat in Northwestern Peru, to cite one section of their website, ISEC focuses on these poorly studied cats in a variety of habitats from northern Ecuador to southern Argentina.  The research will help determine home ranges and the impact of free-ranging dogs on the activity patterns and abundance of Pampas cats in the tropical dry forest of northwestern Peru.

To learn more about small wild cats, read the International Society for Endangered Cats website and scroll to the bottom for fact sheets, to sign up for the CyberCats e-newsletter, to contact ISEC, or to donate to one of their programs.

Featured image: Sand cats © Dr. Alex Silwak for ISEC

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