KOTTENFORST Lutz Schorn, chairman of the Bonn Hunting Association, has sighted a wildcat mother with her young in Kottenforst in an inaccessible area of the forest - a rare sighting, because there are only 6,000 wildcats left in all of Germany.
It's the gamekeeper's job to keep a secret. For that reason, Lutz Schorn, chairman of the Bonn Hunting Association, will never reveal where he saw a wildcat mother with her young. For Schorn it was a wonderful surprise, because this sight is extremely rare. Last week, when he was in the Kottenforst, he could observe the mother and offspring from some distance and even quickly snap a photo. The undergrowth in the new vegetation "made it impossible, however, to determine exactly how many young the wildcat has". Schorn does not rule out that more young cats were hidden in the undergrowth. "Because actually a litter often consists of two to six offspring", he explains.
According to Schorn, the Kottenforst forest with its mixed woodland and open areas, offers an ideal habitat for the wildcat. Nocturnally active and always "under cover", it is rarely observed by humans. As a skilled mouse hunter, it usually only leaves the edge of the forest or other hiding places in the dark. "It has little in common with our house cat", says Schorn. Its mainly hunts small mammals like mice or rats and occasionally birds, amphibians and squirrels. "All this is abundant in the Kottenforst, and so nothing will stand in the way of their numbers expanding", Schorn is sure.
He has observed the wildcat for some time already. "I saw her for the first time in June 2017 on the other side of the motorway catching mice and was able to film her with my mobile phone." At that time he was happy about the rare and very shy guest. "We then designed the adjacent forest area, which belongs to our family, as a biotope somewhat more wildcat-friendly and partly refrained from using wood." The cat soon thanked us for having been given a home and was seen almost every day.
This past winter, Schorn has occasionally been able to observe the animal on the other side of the A 565. It It apparently used a drainage pipe under the motorway. "Luckily, she found a safe crossing." According to statistics, the dense and heavily trafficked road network causes the most deaths among wildcats. In their large activity areas and on long hikes, wildcats often cross motorways or federal highways - and are run over again and again. Due to the fatal accidents, the population growth is slowed down, since it is often wildcats at the "best age" which are involved in accidents, and can no longer contribute to reproduction. The German Wildlife Foundation currently estimates a population of about 6,000 wildcats in Germany.
Under no circumstances does Jäger Schorn want to reveal the whereabouts of the wildcat - one of the few in Kottenforst - "so that curious onlookers do not encroach on this sensitive natural area". In spite of the much-used local recreation area, it is important to keep newly created retreat areas free of any disturbance, as otherwise the shy animals would migrate.
"By the way, this applies to many wild animals in Bonn, from deer to rabbits." Schorn's appeal: "Here I would often wish for a little more sensitivity and consideration on the part of all those seeking recreation in the Kottenforst." Otherwise, the already stressed species that occupy the open land at our front door might become rarer and rarer.
Orig. text: Jutta Specht