There are a number of threatened species of wildcats all over the world. The most common treat to their numbers is being hunted for their fur, being captured and kept as pets or loss of habitat, mainly due to the conflict between humans and wildlife in the areas they live.
Some wildcats are forced to hunt on livestock due to the loss of habitat, which in turn leads to local farmers hunting the cats to secure their animals and livelihood. Taking part in volunteer work that focuses on the wildcats you can help gather information that can be useful when negotiating with local farmers over land distribution and hunting.
One of the places you can go to work with wildcats is Dubai. In the middle of the Dubai desert you can find The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) which stretches over an area of 225 km². This is landmass is the equivalent of nearly 5 % of Dubai’s entire land area. The conservation work in this area started in 1999, and today the DDCR is representative of the Dubai inland ecosystem. When arriving all you will be able to see is sandy dunes stretching into the horizon.
However there are also rocky outcrop towards the north of the reserve. This is the roaming land of Gordon’s wildcat (Felis silverstris godoni). A beautiful creature that might at first glance look nothing more than a tubby or large housecat. However, their bodies are muscular and strong, purpose built for hunting in a hot climate. They are extremely endangered and the United Arab Emirates Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife has frozen and stored a few embryos of the species in order to preserve the species.
Another country you can travel to if you want to contribute to the conservation of wildcats is Peru. Here you can work with jaguars, pumas, ocelots and margays. The jaguars and pumas might be the wildcats you read about as a child. These large animals roam the mountains and rainforests of Peru. The smaller ocelots and margays are amongst the smaller wildcats.
These are particularly threatened by people who capture them to keep as pets. Travelling in Peru you will get to see an exotic culture, and it would be a good investment of time to spend a few more days in the country than just what you are planning to spend on the wildcat conservation project. Seeing the Inca trails and traveling to meet some of the locals is an exciting experience.
Most organisations working with wildcat conservation will have everything set up for you when you arrive, all you will have to do yourself is book your flights. Transport is often available at the airport or they will be able to give you advice on how to get to the assembly point. Once at the expedition camp the organisation you will be working for will normally provide you with accommodation and food. It is a good idea to check before you leave what type of accommodation is available.
If you are travelling alone you may choose to be placed in a group cabin or tent, or you might prefer to be more on your own. If you are traveling with a friend or a partner, you might want to ensure that you get to stay in the same accommodation.