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„Visited“ by a Wildcat. Great News from Our Location in the Doupovské Mountains

We knew very little about the site at the time Refugium negotiated the purchase of the cascade of ponds near the village of Jakubov in the Doupovské Mountains.

The one thing we did know was that the northern crested newt used to live there and that carps swam in the ponds. It was our hope that the fish in question would be the rare crucian carp and not the invasive Prussian carp.

We now know that our blind bet paid off.

Last spring, we were able to report that a small population of northern crested newts had survived in the wetlands that remained on the site of the Upper Pond alongside dozens of alpine newts and hundreds of smooth newts.

We received the results of the genetic analyses at the beginning of October, and they confirmed that the carp in Ledviny Lake was the right kind, i.e. the crucian carp (Carassius carassius).

In the meantime, we continued to search for other interesting species on site. We caught frogs in nets, inspected reptiles resting under specially placed pieces of foil, captured small mammals, and looked over the footage from camera traps.

We found marsh frogs, slow worms, grass snakes, and some common lizards. We discovered that the area is inhabited by both wood mice and yellow-necked mice, as well as by bank voles, short-tailed voles, common shrews, and pygmy shrews.

We observed white-tailed eagles, great egrets, and common kingfishers, all of which seemed to enjoy the nearly drained Lower Pond in the fall.

The camera traps revealed a busy nightlife—roe deer, fallow deer, pigs, foxes, badgers, and even non-native racoons. We examined the footage this winter and it turned out that one of the striped tails might not belong to a raccoon, but to a wildcat (Felis silvestris).

Credit: Jan Matějů

Experts have determined that the photo taken last May of the boulders on the shores of Ledviny Lake is very likely a wildcat.

Reports about the sightings and increasing numbers of this critically endangered species in the Doupovské Mountains have been documented for well over a decade, but we dared not hope that one of these rarest of Felidae species could also be roaming around our ponds.

Let’s hope this isn’t the last pleasant surprise that this location has in store for us.

Written by Kristýna and Jan Matějů.

RNDr. Jan Matějů, Ph.D., is a natural scientist who has worked for the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic and since 2012 has been the curator of the natural history collections of the Karlovy Vary Museum. He has been working for a long time on the national and European rescue program for the European ground squirrel, the fauna of Northwest Bohemia, and the natural wealth and landscape of Karlovy Vary. He has a true fondness for the Doupovské Mountains and has published a book about them written with Petr Hradecký, Vladimír Melichar, and others.

Jan Matějů is a true expert on the Doupovské Mountains, and we at Refugium are delighted that he’s decided to focus on our location, where, in addition to his own research and coordination with other projects, he is also working on developing a restoration project. This will provide expert guidance on how to manage this piece of land so that it will retain its valuable assets for centuries to come.
Opening photo credit: Adobe Stock /