because every tiger counts...
 

News

>> Tiger numbers swell in Karnataka   >> Tiger count in Kaziranga rises from 83 to 104 in 3 years   >> Rs 3.40-cr for tiger relocation at Rajaji Park   >> In Sariska, tiger pushes son out of reserve’s core area   >> Leopards revel in Siswan`s nights   >> Tiny Orang roars on tiger density   >> Relocation of village in Melghat tiger reserve gains momentum   >> Tiger Skin   >> 4 held with animal skin   >> Poacher held   >> Leopard mauls forest ranger   >> Few takers for SGNP’s animal adoption scheme   >> 62 tigers sighted during annual waterhole census at TATR   >> Tigers are now back at Assams Manas reserve   >> Tigers kills six elephants in Kerala’s Wayanad as drought triggers fierce water war   >> 9th tiger dies in U`khand in just 5 months   >> Tiger found dead in MP reserve   >> Four held for poisoning tiger in Erode   >> 117 kg meat, animal parts, arms seized from retd colonel`s home   >> DRI officials claim top cartel busted after 17 hr raid unearths skins, skulls   >> Karnataka sees 11 tiger deaths in just four months   >> Tiger paralysed by poachers in MP dies after two weeks of treatment   >> Tigress found dead near Pench wildlife reserve   >> Missing tiger Jai still a mystery for forest department   >> Maharahstra: A year after it went missing, activists remember tiger Jai   >> Pench loses 4th big cat in 4 mths   >> Tiger areas may become human free   >> Maha tigers lure tourists away from MP   >> Tiger dead in Kaziranga   >> Tiger dies in Madhya Pradesh reserve, sixth death in the state this year   >> Leopard briefly shuts down int`l airport in Nepal   >> Another tiger run over on tracks near Bhopal   >> Wild Thai tiger cub footage sparks hope for endangered species   >> The Big tiger skin catch on Arunachal Border   >> Slaughterhouse crackdown in UP: Uttarakhand’s leopards too on a chicken diet   >> Kandi road project: Uttarakhand to ensure safety of Corbett park wildlife   >> With increase in numbers, tigers fight it out for space in Ranthambore reserve   >> Four years on, missing male tiger of Tadoba reserve spotted   >> Three arrested for poaching deer near Ambur forest   >> 18 peacocks poisoned to death   >> Leopard carcass found in Jodmoha   >> Male Aussie shephered plays more to endangered cubs   >> The other side of the Kaziranga story   >> Thailand seizes 300kg ivory   >> Leopard captured, taken to Thrissur zoo   >> Now, drones to be used for monitoring tigers   >> CZA calls for stopping animal cruelty in circuses   >> Endangered snow leopard sighted in Lahaul   >> Video of tigers chasing a drone goes viral   >> Tiger found dead starvation suspected   >> more >>   
 

News

back Go Back        Print

Sunderbans mystery cat one of its kind

The Times of India
Kolkata
27 Mar 2012

The Sunderbans has revealed at least one of its mysteries. In the depths of its mangroves, lives a one-of-its-kind feline - the melanistic leopard-cat - captured in camera traps outside the core area. Now the excitement is over how many such cats are in Sunderbans , and if it is a new species.

There are just two pictures of the cat - the first ever sighting in history. It`s a rare occasion for wildlife scientists to consider the discovery of a new mammalian species. TOI was the first to report the eureka moment. Bengal forest officials had sent pictures of the cat to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) three days ago and got a reply on Monday morning. "According to them, it`s a leopard-cat melanistic. In my knowledge , such a species has never been sighted anywhere in the state before," said Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve (SBR) director Pradeep Vyas.

WII senior scientist Y V Jhala took it a step further: "Such a cat has never been photo-captured anywhere in the world. Identifying a species from camera trap images is very difficult but after consulting other scientists here we have decided to go with `leopard cat melanistic` . We have laid camera traps inside the core area of Sunderbans, too, which will help us know if the species is common in this part of the world."

Peter Jackson, a senior member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature cat specialist group, had earlier failed to identify the species. "Only then, the forest department decided to send the photographs to WII," said WWF-India`s Sunderbans chapter head Anurag Danda.

The cat spotted in the camera traps in Raidighi is bigger than a wild cat and smaller than a leopard, say sources. "We have never seen any animal like this in the Sunderbans. Apart from the 18 tigers, scores of other cats, including jungle and fishing cats, were found during the camera exercise , which was done outside the reserve area for the first time. Most of them were expected till we came upon two sightings of a black cat with a long tail on February 26," added Vyas.

WII scientists said the identification process was not easy. "The tail was crucial. We thought it was a fishing cat melanistic or a marbled cat. However, after discussions with other carnivore experts we decided to identify it as a black leopard cat," said WII senior scientist V B Mathur.

A fishing cat`s tail can be a third of its body length, whereas the tail of a leopard cat can be half the length of its body.