9 Jun 2024

Wild cat Caracal thought to be extinct for a decade spotted in Madhya Pradesh's Chambal, see details

The endangered wild cat known as the Caracal, previously thought to be extinct for a decade, has been recently spotted in Madhya Pradesh. Notably, it was observed swimming across the Chambal river in MP, a rare occurrence that has intrigued wildlife experts worldwide. The last sighting of the Caracal in MP was around 10 years ago in Bhind. Currently, efforts are underway to locate the Caracal by setting up trap cameras in the ravines of Chambal. 

Caracal has not been seen in MP for the last 10 years. Now it has been spotted in the state after a decade. The wild cat is believed to exist only in Rajasthan and Gujarat in India.

In February this year, a wildlife enthusiast captured a photo of the Caracal swimming across the Chambal river between Dholpur and Morena. This image prompted the MP Biodiversity Board to assign the search project to the Forest and Wildlife Department of Amity University, Noida. Wildlife expert Ranveer Singh, along with his PhD scholar Shantanu Sharma, are leading the search for the Caracal and its natural habitat in the Chambal ravines.

Only around 50 Caracals remain in India

It's worth noting that the National Biodiversity Wildlife Board identified the Caracal as one of 22 wildlife species on the brink of extinction in 2021. Presently, it is estimated that only around 50 Caracals remain in India, primarily found in certain areas of eastern Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The caracal is a small wild cat recognized for its long-tufted ears and reddish-tan or sandy-brown coat. With an estimated population of around 50 individuals in India, primarily concentrated in the western regions, this species is considered critically endangered and faces the risk of extinction in the country. Wildlife experts and scientists are concerned that following the extinction of the Asiatic cheetah in 1952, the caracal might become the second feline species to disappear from India.

A 2015 study indicated that approximately 28 caracals inhabit the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, with an additional 20 individuals estimated to reside in Kutch, Gujarat. These two locations are believed to be the only remaining populations of caracals in India.

According to the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, this feline, distinguished by black markings on its face and white circles around the eyes and mouth, is native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and arid regions of Pakistan and northwestern India.

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