Dear Hawk Creek Family,
Take a moment and close your eyes.
Imagine tall grass like the savanna: a sea of rustling leaves and dappled shadows where small creatures scurry. Imagine the sounds: the wind in the field, the clicks and drones of insects, and the calls of birds far overhead. Here, on my own, I am crouched in the cover of the green blades still as I can be, waiting. My eyes are closed — I am listening. My pointed ears swivel and turn; my whiskers feel the currents of the breeze. I can hear my prey through the slightest rustle of a leaf. It chirps, giving away its location. My target doesn’t know it, but I am one of the deadliest creatures in the animal kingdom. The sounds grow louder and clearer as my ears close in on the exact spot where it has come to rest. My legs, like springs, wind up for the pounce. I leap, and…
PEDRA! — Someone calls my name, it must be time for breakfast! You’re probably wondering who and what I am. I’m a black-footed cat, and I’m here to ask for your help. Before I moved to this fun new home I had a very important job as part of a program called the Species Survival Plan, which aims to help the populations and genetic diversity of threatened and endangered wildlife. Now I’m 13 and retired at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center where I am still making a difference as an ambassador for small wild cats! Black-footed cats like me are the deadliest wild cats in the world with a 60% success rate when hunting! That’s right, I’m just four pounds — but each of my wild cousins can catch a dozen mice a night. We may be tiny, but we have a huge impact on our environment!
There are thought to be fewer than 10,000 mature black-footed cats in the wild of South Africa and that population is still decreasing. My new neighbors at Hawk Creek also have cousins in the wild that are in trouble.
99% of the funding given to wild cat conservation goes to the 7 large cat species, meaning the 33 species of small to medium wildcats are forgotten.
Humans don’t know much about us because we are so elusive that we may disappear before they are able to study us and learn how to help. Thankfully, my new family at Hawk Creek understands the vital roles of even the smallest creatures in our ecosystems. That is why I came here: so that even in my retirement, others can continue to appreciate, learn from, and help support my species’ legacy.
I’m excited to meet new people and teach them about how unique I am. My neighbor, River the fishing cat, actually got to meet the founder of the Fishing Cat Conservancy! Fishing cats are incredibly secretive and hard to research, but he was able to study River’s movements and how she uses her paws to fish! By studying wild cats like me and River, conservation scientists are able to learn how to help our species in the wild!
It takes much more than a few mice a day to sustain this mission. A hundred other ambassadors just like me all need food, shelter, training, and care to maintain good health and quality of life.
I would not be here without you — the support you give is essential to Hawk Creek’s ongoing project of promoting responsible ecological stewardship through direct conservation and educational outreach. While giving this year, please consider adopting me or one of my friends. By helping us meet our daily needs, you protect our mission. Plus, you can also choose a gift for yourself or your loved one — including tote bags, plush animals and event tickets — to help share in our care.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. I would love to meet you in person, so keep your ears open for Hawk Creek’s future events!