While official estimates suggest fewer than 2,500 fossa remain, some conservationists believe that the population is declining rapidly and that this species could be Critically Endangered.
An unusual, cat-like carnivore
The fossa is one of the most unusual of all big predators. Secretive and cat-like, they are expert climbers and well equipped for chasing down lemurs in the forest. They also take small shrew-like creatures called tenrecs and almost any other vertebrate animal living in Madagascar’s forests.
But very little is known about the fossa, as only a handful of scientists have been able to study them closely in the wild. It is currently classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but according to one scientist studying it, the fossa could be in an even more perilous state.
In her studies, which use GPS tracking collars to follow individual fossa, Ms Mia-Lana Lührs at Germany’s University of Göttingen and the German Primate Centre believes no more than 30 fossa now exist in Kirindy, a protected area in western Madagascar. A forest fragment that size would be expected to be home to many times that number.
Habitat destruction is one significant cause of the fossa’s recent decline. Increasingly, the large predator is also coming into conflict with people, as it leaves the dwindling forest in search of food.
Ms Lührs suspects the fossa may already be Critically Endangered.
“There is this fascinating weird creature at the other end of the world and it might soon go extinct,” she says.
To read more, see the BBC article.
Alex Royan, ARKive Species Text Author