sand kitten in the wild sand kitten in the wild The researchers had been searching for these kittens since 2013. (Photo: Gregory Breton / Panthera)

Nobody's photographed a sand kitten in the wild ... until now

See the first-ever photos and video of these mysterious cuties.

Sand cats, for all their cuteness, are incredibly evasive. This species of big-eared cat lives in the African desert and Central Asia. A few sand kittens have been born in zoos (including this brood born in an Israeli zoo), but researchers have never managed to photograph and film them in their natural environment ... until now.

Researchers discovered a brood of sand kittens in Morocco recently, and they were able to capture videos and photographs of these hauntingly beautiful, mysterious felines.

"They barely leave any visible pugmarks, they don’t leave behind remains of their prey, and their vocalizations are quiet," explained Gregory Breton, one of the researchers on the expedition. "They move stealthily at dusk, night and dawn, they’re good at hiding, and their fur provides perfect camouflage when they want to vanish from observers and threats. But they don’t run away."

The kittens were about six to eight weeks old, which made them too young to collar. But the researchers did find a nearby adult cat who may have been their mother and collared her.

"If we collect footage of her and follow her for a long period, we can gather data on the natural reproduction cycles and offspring dispersal of this species in the wild – all topics never before documented," Breton continued. "Finding these kittens was astonishing."

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