Field Research

What is known today about the home range, behaviour and food spectrum of black-footed cats was found during a 6-year field study in South Africa. The study area is situated close to the famous diamond city Kimberley, in the Northern Cape Province.

Study Area in South Africa


In February 1993 the zoologist Dr. Alexander Sliwa for the first time fitted a free-ranging female black-footed cat with a radio-collar. Until 1998 he studied 21 different cats in their natural habitat.

Radio-collared black-footed cat With self-made traps he captured the cats, measured them and fitted them with radio collars. These collars weighed only 50 g and gave signals for 6 months.

Tracking cats

Photo by courtesy of Arne Lawrenz

He patiently habituated the cats to the presence of a 4-wheel-drive vehicle and was eventually observing them from a distance of just 15 to 30 metres. For more than 3,000 hours he followed them cross-country - mostly at night - over 2,000 km. He actually watched the cats continuously for 1,600 hours while hunting, mating and raising their litters.

His latest field reports are available as :