A shy, stealthy cat species has been spotted in the wild in the western United Arab Emirates for the first time in more than 10 years.
It was thought the Arabian sand cat was all but gone in the region, and even the last known sighting lacked any physical evidence.
But the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi has captured not just one, but three, on a set of camera traps.
Across 278 nights, five camera traps were set and together they caught 46 photos of the pale-furred animals.
(Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi)
"These are the first confirmed sightings of the presence of Arabian sand cat in the western region of Abu Dhabi Emirate after an unconfirmed sighting reported in 2005," says the report, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research.
The Sahara Conservation Fund's John Newby told New Scientist the research is critical for future conservation plans, as habitat loss threatens the species.
"Scientists need to be doing more research on how the sand cats live in order to create a suitable protected area."
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list lists sand cats as "near threatened", partly due to the uncertainty over just how many there are across the world.
"The sand cat may have a broader distribution than presumed, qualifying for 'least concern'," it says.
Al Ain Zoo is home to the largest captive population of Arabian sand cats at 33, and head conservationist Hessa Al Qahtani says studying the species is hard work.
"They are a very sensitive species, and it's not easy to study them," she told The National. "They are very tricky. They are very elusive."
Most of the sightings on the camera traps were caught between midnight and 6am.