From telegraph.co.uk: A three-week-old sand kitten, is seen in her enclosure in the Ramat Gan Safari Park near Tel Aviv. The kitten is the first of the sand cat species, considered extinct in Israel, to be born at the safari park.
Renana, a 3-week-old sand kitten, sits next to her mother Rotem at the Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv.
The kitten was born at the Zoological Center – Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, and is named Renana, meaning “joy” or “song” in Hebrew.
Renana is the first Sand cat ever born at the Ramat Gan Safari. Three weeks ago, Renana’s mother, Rotem, refused to come inside for the night, and the following evening, she gave birth to Renana in an outdoor enclosure.
With pale yellow fur, the Felis margarita, or Sand cat, lives in burrows in areas that are even too hot for the African wildcat. The Sand cat no longer exists in the wild in Israel, and is endangered in other habitats including the Sahara and deserts of Iran and Pakistan.
The cats hunt after dusk for rodents, lizards, birds, insects, and can cover up to six miles a night in search of their prey.
Solitary animals, the Sand cat is not territorial, and obtains all the water it needs from their prey as to avoid dangerous watering holes. Threats to the cat include humans, snakes, wolves, and raptors- birds of prey.
Unlike other feline species, the Sand cat does not leave its feces in exposed areas, and make loud, high-pitched barking sounds when in danger or while seeking a mate. Very little is known about the cat’s life expectancy in the wild, but in captivity, they can live up to 13 years.
Sand cat kittens grow rather rapidly, reaching three quarters of the adult size within five months of being born, and are fully independent after their first year.
Renana is expected to join Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program which plans to reintroduce sand cats into the wild. The Zoological Center Tel Aviv- Ramat Gan, where Renana was born, hopes that the kitten will help remove the species from risk of extinction.