Endangered genets re-appear in Algeria, amid pandemic

ALGIERS (AFP) – The genet, a cat-like species threatened with extinction in Algeria, has re-appeared in forests of the North African country, likely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said on Tuesday.

“We had not seen them for a long time, but we have now,” said Head of Wildlife Ilham Kabouya at the Forestry Directorate, adding that the number of these animals in the wild remained minimal.

Shy and nocturnal, the genet is a carnivore with thick, dotted fur and a tail almost as long as its slender body. It is often mistaken for a cat.

“Generally speaking, the confinement (of people due to the coronavirus) has seen biodiversity, nature regain some of its rights. Fauna like peace and quiet,” said Kabouya.

The genet is the third endangered species that has re-appeared in Algeria in recent months.

The Saharan cheetah, a feline that had not been seen for 10 years, was spotted in May in Ahaggar National Park, in the far southern region of Tamanrasset. “The cheetah is a special case. It never disappeared, except for years we did not see it,” Kabouya told AFP. “But we managed to film it with camera traps,” she said, adding there were “very few” remaining Saharan cheetahs, whose natural habitat straddles southern Algeria, Mali and Niger.

The striped hyena has also reappeared in Tipaza, in northwest Algeria. But this scavenger, which fears humans, is hunted due to local superstitions.

Genet in Nossob Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape, South Africa