Nordens Ark, Sweden in August 2011

A Wild Cat Club Excursion. - For some time now we have been supporting the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group through a small service club: The Wild Cat Club.

The IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group

Along with a handful other so called flagship species, the 37 wild living cat species hold a very special role in global biodiversity conservation. The decline of a carnivore generally alters the ecological balance of its biological community. Cats are linked through predation to herbivores, which are, in turn, linked to each other through competition and to plant communities by their foraging. Large cats, being at the pinnacle of the food chain, need considerable space, and are, therefore, key species in determining the area required to define an appropriate ecosystem. Successful conservation of wild living cats implies maintaining their natural habitat and prey species. At the same time, integration of local communities is a critical factor to achieve successful solutions. Protecting wild cats as flagship species guarantees a comprehensive approach with immediate and direct impact on many of the world's most threatened eco-systems.

The Cat Specialist Group is engaged in important and demanding tasks that are indispensible for the long term conservation of wild cat species:

  • Research and monitoring of all 37 wild living cat species.
  • Provision of scientific assessments for the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
  • Assessments and reviews of research and conservation projects.
  • Advisory services to governments that are party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • Planning and global realisation of education and training programs to support the much needed expansion of expert capacities for research, monitoring and conservation.
  • Provision and management of the Digital Cat Library, further online compendia and a comprehensive project database.
  • Ensuring availability of a worldwide and up-to-date base of scientific information.  

The Wild Cat Club supports the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group financially, thus aiming to help accomplish these important tasks. Wild Cat Club Members in turn benefit from special privileges. One such privilege being an annual excursion accompanied by members of the Cat Specialist Group.

This year, we didn't venture into some remote and wild area, but rather visited Nordens Ark, a special place in Southern Sweden.

Nordens Ark is a non-profit foundation with the goal to provide a future for endagered animals through; breeding and reintroduction programmes, research and information. Many of the species are part of conservation breeding and recovery programmes carried out in cooperation with nature conservation organisations and authorities, universities and zoos around the world. On its 180 hectare facility, Nordens Ark will only keep animals for which best possible environmental conditions, and a meaningful contribution to a long-term survival in the wild can be ensured.

The Snow Leopard, a popular resident of Nordens Ark:

Although we had a lot of wet weather to put up with on this trip, Nordens Ark provided fantastic close-ups with species that would be extremely difficult, or almost impossible to track down in the wild. Among them the critically endangered Amur leopard, of which probably no more than 30 animals survive in the wild.

Nordens Ark also includes a small, very comfortable hotel with an excellent restaurant and conference facilities. Guided tours to see the animals, as well as photo courses can be booked. The setup allows for some species like Snow leopard, Amur tiger, Wolverine, Wolves, but also Pallas's cat and Red-crowned crane, etc. to be observed in the open, and not through bars or a fence.

Travel information:

Getting there: Nordens Ark is situated near the town of Hunnebostrand / Sotenäs in Southern Sweden. Easy access is possible both via Gothenburg and via Oslo, from where rental cars can be arranged to drive to Nordens Ark. It is about a 3hr drive from Oslo Gardermoen Intl. Airport, and about half that from Gothenburg.


Book directly with Nordens Ark.


The IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group

The Wild Cat Club

Patrick Meier, August 2011