PAUL’S SMALL CAT DIARY
Producer Paul Williams introduces six extraordinary small-cat sequences from the new BBC One series.
1 FISHING CAT
IUCN STATUS: Vulnerable Working with local conservationists, we used underwater remote cameras to film one of these leggy spotted cats and her kittens as they learned to hunt in the monsoon wetlands. The mother stealthily tracked and pounced into the water to catch fish, but her offspring were more interested in playing with the aquatic plants.
2 RUSTY-SPOTTED CAT
FILMED: Sri Lanka
IUCN STATUS: Near-threatened Unsurprisingly, the world’s smallest cat (it weighs just 1–1.5kg) is rarely seen. So we teamed up with conservationists in Sri Lanka to film a young male on the verge of independence in a remote rainforest reserve. Regular downpours, deep shade and a nimble cat all conspired to present us with a huge challenge.
FILMED: South Africa
IUCN STATUS: Least concern Equipped with a night-vision surveillance camera and thermal scopes, we spent several weeks filming inside the secure buffer zone that surrounds Africa’s biggest fuel plant. Lakes created to cool the plant have resulted in an explosion of rodents in this wasteland. With no competitor big cats to worry about, it has led to the densest serval population on the continent.
4 BORNEO BAY CAT
IUCN STATUS: Endangered To get images of the least-known of all the cats, we’d have to take a different approach. Our only hope was to join forces with Oxford University’s Andrew Hearn, who is using camera-traps in rainforest to carry out the first ever long-term study of the species. Watch Big Cats to find out if we were successful.
5 CANADA LYNX
IUCN STATUS: Least concern In the Yukon, our team stripped the film kit to the basics and headed out on showshoes to track lynx being studied by scientists (my photo shows a cat tagged for the study). Despite temperatures plunging below –20°C and record-breaking snowfall, we filmed intimate scenes of the species’ unique relationship with its prey, the snowshoe hare.
6 BLACK-FOOTED CAT
FILMED: South Africa
IUCN STATUS: Vulnerable Africa’s deadliest cat, with the highest hit rate when hunting, is also the smallest. Using specialist night cameras we joined researchers in South Africa’s Karoo desert to track an individual they have named Gyra. Two hundred times smaller than a lion, she would be almost impossible to find in this landscape, but a radio collar allowed us to follow and film her nocturnal pursuits.