Conservationists are all atwitter over a photograph of one of the most elusive cats in the entire world. A night-time camera trap was able to snap a photo of the Saharan cheetah.
Fewer than 10 of the cats survive in the deserts of Termit, Niger, where the photograph was taken. Virtually nothing is known about the cheetah, except that it endures extremely high temperatures and appears to survive without a permanent source of water.
The research is all part of the Saharan Carnivore Project, which was set up to study and document large predators in the Sahara, which is considered one of the most inhospitable habitats on earth.
In ten years in the area, conservationists have only seen three of the cheetahs, and before now they were never able to capture a photo of one.
"The cheetahs of Termit Massif are extremely shy, rarely revealing themselves to researchers and few visitors go there," researcher Thomas Rabeil told the BBC. "Project personnel have gone to extraordinary lengths to try and observe these animals directly, resorting to extended surveys on camel-back."
Saharan cheetahs are thought to range in six countries: Algeria, Togo, Niger, Mali, Benin, and Burkina Faso. There are believed to be around 250 of them.