An unexpected new inhabitant of Czech Switzerland was revealed by camera traps. According to pictures from last year, a wild cat was running through the national park. Experts from the Faculty of the Environment of the Czech University of Life Sciences came across her photos while evaluating a series of pictures from last March, which show a cat with typical distinguishing features of a wild cat.
A camera trap captured a wild cat in Czech Switzerland.
| Photo: NP Czech Switzerland
The camera caught the cat in places that were not affected by last year’s big forest fire and which are on the border of the rest area. The administration of the Czech Switzerland National Park is now trying to confirm the presence of the wild cat on its territory. “Zoologists place camera traps purposefully and with the use of bait, which is extremely attractive to cats. It is a decoction from the valerian, which is a stained wooden pin placed in front of the camera trap itself,” says national park administration spokesman Tomáš Salov.
It is not yet clear where the wild cat came to Bohemian Switzerland. If its permanent occurrence were confirmed, České Švýcarsko would thus become one of the few places in the Czech Republic inhabited by this rare beast. The closest places of their confirmed occurrence in the Czech Republic are in the Šumava, in the Beskydy Mountains or in the Doupovské Mountains.
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If the wild cat is permanently present in the area, the chance would also increase that, in addition to photographs, it would be possible to obtain fur samples over time and subject them to DNA analysis. This analysis would then also provide more detailed information about the origin of the cat or the degree of possible crossbreeding with the domestic cat. “Given that these are daylight images of exceptional quality, it is very likely that this is an almost pure feral cat that has all the typical distinguishing features and, conversely, no obvious signs of a crossbreed,” he explains zoologist of the national park administration Martin Valášek.
In the past, another type of big cat was also recorded in Bohemian Switzerland, island lynx. This beast was also captured by camera traps, conservationists also found typical scratches on trees or roe deer pulled high into branches. It was last captured more than ten years ago. However, it is likely that they are still occasionally found in Bohemian Switzerland when driving through the countryside. One feature uses an area of up to 350 square kilometers, i.e. more than four times the area of the national park.