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Surprise at Pico Ruivo

On the 19th of January 2022 I went to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak on the island with 1862meters | 6108feet. I started the walk from Achada do Teixeira, to get up there early in the morning to take some nice photos.

When reaching Pico Ruivo, I had beautiful views of the mountains around it, as the day was clear, with no clouds. However, the big surprise was to find a cat there, on the highest peak. I tried to touch the cat, but it was afraid of people and would only allow some proximity. I took some photos, and watched its behaviour. I can not say if it was a male or female cat, as it did not come close.

The reason I was so surprised to see a cat there, was because they are a predator to the Zino’s Petrel (Pterodroma madeira), an endemic and protected marine bird that nests in the higher mountains of Madeira Island. Several measures have been taken since 1990 to assure that this endangered species continues to nest safely in these mountains, namely by removing predators like rats and cats. The nesting season starts from late march, and each couple lays only one egg per year. Therefore the importance to guarantee that there are no predators around.

I must say that, since that day, I have returned to Pico Ruivo and the cat was not there. Hopefully it was safely removed and is now with a new foster family, happy and warm and with lots of food at its disposal.

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