Salalah: Said al Shanfari was all ears when he heard some sounds during a trip to a wadi in the Dhofar region. He immediately fixed his camera and searchlight and rushed in the direction of the noise. “In the rustle of an adjoining tree’s leaves, I found it looking straight at me.”
Al Shanfari, environmentalist and nature photographer, was all excited while recounting how he managed to get some “great clicks” of the ‘common genet’.
He had developed an ability to distinguish animals and birds by the sounds they make.
Al Shanfari, however, did not expect a genet this time around. “May be due to the prevailing greenery in wadis, they are still in the area. This time around, they are found in the vegetated areas in the wilayat of Dalkhout.”
By his own admission, he was seeing a genet after a year.
Common genet is a mammal that belongs to the civet family. There are some 30 subspecies of common genets found in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
According to a study conducted in association with the Ministries of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), common genet is found in Africa and south of the Sahara. In Arabian Peninsula, they are restricted to the more vegetated western Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Dhofar region in Oman.
“The built of a genet is like a long-bodied car with short legs. The tail is long and cylindrical, not tapered and is densely covered with hair. The muzzle is pointed and the eyes and ears are large. The colour of the back is light olive grey. The nape is striated with seven irregular reddish lines. The flanks and back are marked with five lines of reddish spots on each side of the black median strip. The tail is marked with eleven or twelve black rings,” says the study.
It said genets are solitary, nocturnal animals that shelter during the day in densely shaded trees or rock crevices. “They prefer wooded wadis where they can find food in scattered trees. They are opportunistic feeders, surviving on insects, fruits, birds, small rodents, lizards, scorpions and frogs.”
“Genets travel extensively at night and are very good climbers. They frequently take roosting or nesting birds out of trees. In many parts of the Middle East, genets used to be rat-catchers. The domestic cat has since replaced them,” it said.
Picture by Said Al Shanfari