Source: IOL (Extract)
Posted: Sep 03, 2019

Pretoria – A member of South Africa’s smallest and most enigmatic wild cat species was recently delivered and the species helped saved from extinction by veterinarians at the Faculty of Veterinary Science’s Veterinary Academic Hospital at the University of Pretoria.

The black-footed cat, also called Felis nigripes, was delivered by Caesarean section after its mother, Athena, who suffered from lethargy and depression, was brought to UP.

According to wildlife vet Dr Katja Koeppel, who performed the surgery, the cats are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list and are also listed under Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). She said the numbers of the cats were fast declining both in the wild and in captivity.

Koeppel said Athena’s pregnancy was monitored throughout as it was her first litter and she looked very large.

With two healthy foetuses and one where no heartbeat could be observed, Koeppel decided to operate as Athena was overdue. After performing the C-section, the head of the Bird and Exotic Animal Clinic, Dr Dorianne Elliot, managed to successfully resuscitate the cat that was without signs of breathing or an audible heartbeat.

All three kittens have been hand-reared and are now gaining weight. They will become part of the captive black-footed cat breeding programme at the Lory Park Zoo in Midrand to combat the decline of the species.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity, which shows a list of species and their status.

It indicates that no sub-population is thought to have more than 1000 mature individuals.

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