Body length, 60-80cm; tail, 60-80 cm
Estimated at fewer than 2,500
Madagascar's forests and woodland savannahs, from sea level to elevations of 2,000 m
What to make of the fossa? Coming from an ancient line of carnivore predating felines and canines, it has curved retractable claws like a cat and a flat-footed walk like a bear. Other animals know enough to give it a wide berth, as Madagascar's largest native predator can kill virtually anything it encounters. Many humans, however, don't know it as well as they believe. Common opinions holds that the fossa is a savage, brazen killer. But it is actually shy and reclusive, going out of its way to avoid people. Built to pursue prey, the fossa now finds itself pursued—by human hunters and the ravages of wide-scale habitat destruction.