“Ghajattu volpe”, the cat-fox in the forests of a Mediterranean island of Corsica, has been a subject of anoral tradition that has been passed from one generation to another. The animal is said to be “a predator that’s as mysterious as it is deadly,” attacking sheep’s and goats’ udders. However, the animal didn’t exist in the scientific record:
In 2008, that started to change when a cat-fox got caught in a chicken coop by accident. In an effort to figure out just what kind of animal was roaming the mountainous forests on Corsica, wildlife officials started placing scent traps that would encourage the cats to rub up against them. In 2012, one of these devices — a simple contraption involving a wooden post and a scented attractant — trapped enough fur from a cat-fox to yield a DNA sample. In 2016, researchers captured their first live cat-fox, and in the time since, they’ve captured, examined, and released 12 of the 16 that have been spotted in the area.
Now they’re that much closer to determining whether the cat-fox is indeed a unique species.
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