By Maria Weldali – Jul 28,2022

An image of the wild cat (Felis silvestris) sighted at Azraq Wetland Reserve (RSCN photo)

AMMAN — Staff at Azraq Wetland Reserve recorded the first sighting since 1997 of a wild cat, or Felis silvestris, within the boundaries of the reserve, according to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).

The cadres spotted the wild cat while conducting a study on mammals at the reserve, Azraq Wetland Reserve Director Hazem Harisheh said in an RSCN statement.

Harisheh noted that this wild cat is one of four known species in Jordan, primarily found in Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Arabian Peninsula, Botswana, Chad, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, among others. 

Previously recorded sightings of wild cats in the Kingdom were at Yarmouk Nature Reserve, Jordan’s Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Humrat Ma’in, Ghour Fifa, in addition to other areas, Harisheh told The Jordan Times.

“Spotting the wild cat at Azraq Wetland Reserve is of great importance due to it being a positive indicator of healthy biodiversity and wildlife within the reserve,” he said.

The wild cat is still regarded as a common type of cat in many remote areas, according to Thabet Shari, who is the supervisor of RSCN programmes in protected areas.

The Felis silvestris can be found in forests, dry lands and near bodies of water, Shari added. 

Azraq Wetland Reserve, established in 1978 by the RSCN, is known for its lush marshland, natural water collections and rich biodiversity, containing Azraq Killifish, Aphanius sirhani, the only true endemic vertebrate species of Jordan, according to the RSCN website.