Investigating abundance, density and potential threats of Sand cat in the South-Eastern parts of Iran


  • Samira Ghafaripour Department of Environmental sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Zabol, Zabol, Iran
  • Morteza Naderi Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Arak University, Arak, 38156- 8- 8349, Iran
  • Hamid R. Rezaei Department of Environmental Sciences, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran



The sand cat is known as a rare species mainly due to the destruction of its habitat. Because of its nocturnal and secretive behavior, dense hair in the soles, and the overall characteristics of its habitat, there is little data about this species, especially in Iran. In this study, like the general method for nocturnal mammalian species, spotlight surveying was used to estimate the density and abundance of these species. During the study, 660 km strip transects in Samsoor and 615 km in the habitats located in Chahe-Hashem were traversed randomly. Data analysis was performed using Distance 6.2 which resulted that the density and abundance of sand cats in Samsoor area are 0.163 and 45 (CI: 29-72) respectively. Considering the recorded number of individuals and the length of the traversed transects, it can be inferred that the encounter rate with the species is equal to 0.04 individuals per km. To investigate the effect of the moon's status, we planned a study design and covered all lunar nights. The results revealed that the highest rate of encounter rate with the species occurred at the initial and final phases of the lunar nights while the encounter rate with the species was at the lowest level in two middle weeks of the lunar months (0.052 and 0.02 individuals per km respectively). The increased agricultural activities, grazing livestock including camels and goats, and accompanying dogs are some of the main threatening factors. As a solution, we suggest establishing environmental force guard stations in the region and also employing some local peoples as wildlife protection guards.


Abahussain A.A., Abdu A.S., Al-Zubari W.K., El-Deen N.A., Abdul-Raheem M. 2002. Desertification in the Arab region: analysis of current status and trends. Journal of Arid Environments 51:521–545.

Abu-Zinada A.H., Goriup P.D., Nader I.A. 1987. Wildlife conservation and development in Saudi Arabia. Proceedings of the First Symposium Riyadh. No. 3. 406pp.

Adriana A.B., Motta-Junior J.C. 2015. Behavioural and morphological strategies by small savannah rodents to avoid predation. Mammalian Biology. 80 (5):401-408.

Al-Sharhan A. S., Wood W.W., Goudie A.S., Fowler A., Abdellatif E.M. 2003. Desertification in the third millennium. Swets and Zeltinger, Lisse, The Netherlands.

Barnes R.F., Tapper S.C. 1985. A method of counting hares by spotlight. Journal of Zoology 206: 273–276.

Blair W.F. 1943. Activities of Peromyscus with relation to light intensity. J Wildl Manage 7: 92-97.

Buckland S.T., Anderson D.R., Burnham K.P., Laake J.L. 1993. Distance Sampling:Estimating Abundance of Biological Populations. Chapman & Hall, London, UK 464pp.

Butynski T.M. 1984. Nocturnal ecology of the spring hare, Pedetes capensis, in Botswana. African Journal of Ecology 22: 7-22.

Carbone C., Gittleman J. 2002. A common rule for the scaling of carnivore density. Science 295: 2273–2276.

Creel S., Creel N.M. 1996. Limitation of African wild dogs by competition with larger carnivores. Conservation Biology 10:526–538.

Cunningham P. 2002. Status of the sand cat, Felis margarita, in the United Arab Emirates. Zoology in the Middle East 25:9–14.

Duckworth J.W. 1992. Sighting frequencies of nocturnal mammals in an Ethopian Rift Valley National Park. African Journal of Ecology 30: 90–97.

Edwards G.P., Depreu N., Shakeshaft B.J., Crearly I.V., Paltridge R.M. 2001. Home range and movements of male feral cats (Felis catus) in a semiarid woodland environment in Central Australia. Austral Ecology 26:93–101.

Edwards G.P., Depreu N.D., Shakeshaft B.J., and Crealy I.V. 2000. An evaluation of two methods of assessing feral cat and dingo abundance in central Australia. Wildlife Research 27: 143–149.

Russell Cole F., Wilson D.E. 2014, Felis margarita (Carnivora: Felidae), Mammalian Species 47(924): 63-77.

Fashing P.J.,Cords M. 2000. Diurnal primate densities and biomass in the Kakamega Forest: an evaluation of census methods and a comparison with other forests, American Journal of Primatology 50, 139-152.

Ferreras P., Beltrán J.F., Aldama J.J. and Delibes M. 1997. Spatial organisation and land tenure system of the endangered Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). Journal of Zoology 243: 163-189.

Gilbert B.S., Boutin S. 1991. Effect of moonlight on winter activity of snowshoe hares. Arctic Alpine Research 23: 61-65.

Goodman S.M., Helmy I. 1986. The sand cat Felis margarita Loche, 1858 in Egypt. Mammalia 50:120–123.

Harper G.A. 2004. Feral cats on Stewart Island/Rakiura: population regulation, homerange size, and habitat use. New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC)—Science Internal Series 174. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

Hatough-Bouran A., Disi A.M. 1991. History, distribution, and conservation, of large mammals and their habitats in Jordan. Environmental Conservation 18 (1): 19–44.

Heydon M.J., Reynolds J.C., Short M.J. 2000. Variation in abundance of foxes (Vulpes vulpes) between three regions of rural Britain, in relation to landscape and other variables. Journal of Zoology 251, 253–264.

Inskip C., Zimmermann A. 2009. Human–felid conflict: a review of patterns and priorities worldwide. Oryx 43, 18–34.

Kavanau J.L. 1967. Behavior of captive white-footed mice. Science 155:1623-1639.

Kie J.G., Boroski B.B. 1995. Using spotlight counts to estimate mule deer population size and trends. California Fish and Game 81(2):55–70.

Mahon P.S., Banks P.B., Dickman C.R. 1998.

Population indices for wild carnivores: a critical study in sand-dune habitat, southwestern Queensland. Wildlife Research 25:11–22.

Mallon D.P., Sliwa A., Strauss M. 2011. Felis margarita. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2.

Accessed 27 August 2014. Mallon D.P., Budd K. 2011. Regional Red List Status of Carnivores in the Arabian Peninsula. Cambridge, UK and Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, and Sharjah, UAE:54 | Journal of Wildlife and Biodiversity 1(1): 47-55 (2017)

Environment and Protected Areas Authority, 49 pp.

McNeilage A., Plumptre A.J., Brock-Doyle A., Vedder A. 2001. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda: Gorilla Census 1997. Oryx 35: 39-47.

Monadjem A., Monadjem A.C., Putnam J. 1998. Sighting frequencies of nocturnal mammals in Swaziland. African Journal of Ecology 36: 280–85.

Naderi Gh., Hemami M.R., Mohammadi S., Riazi B., Karami M., Kaboli M., Alesheikh A. 2011. Effects of vegetation and soil conditions on burrow structure and site ion of rare desert rodent Iranian jerboa (Allactaga firouzi). Polish Journal of Ecology, 59(2): 403-410

Norbury G.L., Norbury D.C., Heyward R. 1998. Behavioral responses of two predator species to sudden declines in primary prey. Journal of Wildlife Management 62:45–58.

Nowell K., Jackson P. 1996. Wild cats: status survey and conservation plan. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland.

O'Farrell M.J. 1974. Seasonal activity patterns of rodents in a sagebrush community. J Mammal 55: 809-823.

Owings D.H., Lockard R.B. 1971. Different nocturnal patterns of Peromyseus californieus and Peromyseus ereminieus in lunar lighting, Psychonomic Science 22: 63-64.

Poole K.G. 1994. Characteristics of an unharvested lynx population during a snowshoe hare decline. Journal of Wildlife Management 58:608–618.

Qumsiyeh M., Amr Z.S., Shafee D. 1993. The status and conservation of carnivores in Jordan. Mammalia 57 (1): 55–62.

Ralls K., Eberhardt L.L. 1997. Assessment of abundance of San Joaquin kit foxes by spotlight surveys. Journal of Mammalogy 78: 65–73.

Roberts T.J. 1997. The mammals of Pakistan. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom.

Russell Cole F., Wilson D.E. 2015. Felis margarita (Carnivora: Felidae), Mammalian Species 47(924):63–77.

Scott, D.M., Waite S., Maddox T.M., Freer R.A., Dunstone N. 2005.The validity and precision of spotlighting of surveying desert mammal communities. Arid Environments 61: 589–601.

Short J., Turner B., Risbey D.A., Carnamh R. 1997. Control of feral cats for nature conservation. II. Population reduction by poisoning. Wildlife Research 24: 703–714.

Sliwa A., Ghadirian T., Appel A., Banfield L., SherShah M., Wacher T. 2016. Felis margarita. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sliwa A. 2004. Home range size and social organization of black-footed cats (Felis nigripes). Mammalian Biology 69, 96-107.

Sliwa A. 2013. Felis margarita Loche. P.199-202. In: Kingdon, J.S. and Hoffmann, M. (Eds). The Mammals of Africa Vol 5. Carnivora, Pholidota, Perissodactyla. In Kingdon J. Butynski T. and Happold D. (Eds). The Mammals of Africa Vols 1-6. Academic Press, Amsterdam.

Sliwa A. 2013. Felis margarita pp 199–202 in The mammals of Africa, Vols. I–VI (J. S.

Kingdon, D. Happold, T Butynski, M. Hoffmann, M. Happold, and J. Kalina, eds.). Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Sliwa A., Breton G., Chevalier F. 2013. Sand cat sightings in the Moroccan Sahara. Cat News 59: 28-30.

Stahl, P., Artois, M. & Aubert, M.F.A. 1988. Organisation spatiale et déplacements des chats forestriers adultes (Felis silvestris Schreber 1777) en Lorraine. (Spatial organisation and deplacements of adult forest cats (Felis silvestris Schreber, 1777) in Lorraine). Revue d Ecologie 43: 113-132.

Sunquist M., Sunquist F. 2002. Wild cats of the world. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois.

Wilson D.E. and Mittermeier R.A. 2009. Handbook of the mammals of the world. Vol. 1. Carnivores. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Wilso G.J., Delahay R.J. 2001. A review of methods to estimate the abundance of terrestrial carnivores using field signs and observation. Wildlife Research 28: 151–164.

Wozencraft W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora Pp. 532–628 in Mammal species of the world. 3rd ed. (Wilson D.E. and Reeder D.M., eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Yunker C.E., Guirgis S.S. 1969. Studies of rodent burrows and their ectoparasites in the Egyptian desert: Environment and micro-environment: some factors influencing acarine distribution. Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association 44:498–542




How to Cite

Ghafaripour, S. ., Naderi, M. ., & Rezaei, H. R. . (2017). Investigating abundance, density and potential threats of Sand cat in the South-Eastern parts of Iran. Journal of Wildlife and Biodiversity, 1(1), 47–55.

Most read articles by the same author(s)