because every tiger counts...
 

News

>> First joint count of tigers in Sunderbans   >> Two tiger deaths in reported 12 hrs in MP   >> 1 critical after being mauled by tiger in Ranthambhore   >> 29 tigers killed in 1 year poaching not ruled out   >> Only 26 leopards left in PKL sanctuaries   >> New measures for tiger census   >> Nagaland: Two arrested with tiger, elephant bones, over Rs 61,000 in cash   >> Centre`s freeze on settling forest rights in tiger habitats to continue   >> Fatal crossings: tigers in 26 reserves under threat   >> Poaching case: Salman appears in Jodhpur court   >> MP Continues to Lose Tigers, First Death of 2018 Reported   >> Tiger Census from Jan 8, safari to be closed for a week   >> 115 tiger deaths recorded in 2017 MP tops the list, Maharashtra 2nd   >> What led to death of the big cats?   >> maharashtra saw 19 tiger deaths in 2017   >> MP records one-fourth of tiger deaths in India in 2017, highest in country   >> CZA seeks report from Raj govt on shifting of tiger `Ustad`   >> Tigress falls prey to wire trap at Panna reserve   >> Tiger cub rescued in A.P.   >> India, neighbours agree to conduct joint tiger census   >> Ranthambore full, two tigers to be shifted   >> Wildlife numbers fall in Jharkhand even as forest cover increases   >> Winter tiger census in Anamalai forest   >> Poacher held with civet carcass in Castle Rock   >> Rajasthan seeks nod to bring tigers from other States   >> Rhino abode short of guards, poaching up   >> Foresters begin probe into death of tiger cub   >> Electric fences killing tigers in Maharashtra   >> State toll 23 as 2 tigers `poisoned`   >> Satkosia tiger reserve set to get 172 sq km more   >> Rhino Killed in Kaziranga   >> Wildlife department to use camera traps to fight poaching   >> Tiger leaves resort at Kabini, enters forest   >> Tiger mauls 10 yr old girl to death in Madhya Pradesh   >> Killer tigress that was to be shot electrocuted   >> Saved by court once, freed amid concerns, tigress dies of electrocution   >> Saved by court once, freed amid concerns, tigress dies of electrocution   >> Two tigers rescued from Syria find Dutch home   >> Tigress tranquillised outside Nagarahole   >> Leopard tranquilised 36 hrs after it landed at Maruti Plant   >> Bombay HC stalls order to shoot killer tigress   >> Tiger death   >> Madhya Pradesh loses two more young tigers; 15 in 9 months   >> Floods, not poachers, proved deadlier for Assam rhinos this year   >> With tiger revival on agenda, experts to visit Cambodia   >> Tigers of Kazakhstan   >> Randeep comes forward to save the national animal   >> habitat connectivity crucial for tigers   >> Tigers to make a comeback in Buxa reserve   >> Online rhino horn auction in S. Africa   >> 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.