There were 16 species of cats found in our country, our of which Cheetah is extinct now. There are six species of cats found in the small Sajjangarh Sanctuary. And if we talk about 60 years back, even tiger was found here. Out of the 15 species of cats, the presence of 7 in this small, five-kilometre sanctuary is indeed a remarkable fact. According to a study under Dr. Raza H. Tehsin’s guidance, below were the species of cats found in this sanctuary:
It is on an average 7 feet long. Females are generally 1 foot shorter than the males. The average weight of a male is 52kg and female is 39kg. Its yellowish brown coat has striking black rosettes on it. The stomach is white in colour. It is found in almost all kinds of forests. Panthers can survive on lizards, frogs to bigger birds and animals, which it can overpower.
2. Leopard Cat:
This cat looks like a cub of a leopard. Its yellowish coat bears black spots. The stomach is white in colour. It preys on rats and small birds.
3. Jungle Cat:
It has long legs and a comparatively short tail. Its light green eyes send a chill down the spine. This cat is yellowish grey in colour with paler undersides. The ears are reddish with pencil-like black hair. The paws are black underneath. It prefers grasslands and open scrub jungles. It hunts during the mornings and evenings. The average weight is 5-6 kg and it is capable of bringing down prey much larger than its size. Its tail has black rings towards the end and ends in a black tip.
4. Desert Cat:
The average weight of this cat is 3-4 kg. It resembles the domestic cat in size. It also has black spots on its coat. The lower part of its tail has black rings on it. The cheek has two horizontal stripes on it and the forelegs have two black bars on the inner side. Desert cat prefers deserts and dry scrub forests.
5. Rusty Spotted Cat:
This is the smallest cat of the world. It is found in Sri Lanka and India only. In India it is distributed in Western Ghats, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kashmir. The back portion of the body contains rusty coloured spots. It survives on rats and small birds.
It has a large head and its tufted ears have black hair. The backside of the ear is also black. Its average length is 83cm. The hind limbs are higher than the forelimbs. Its colour is reddish grey and the undersides are paler with light stripes. Its numbers are going down drastically in our country. Caracal can hunt down deer and snakes as well.
Like the Cheetah, it is tamed easily. In bygone days it was tamed like the cheetah to hunt deer. There used to be a popular sport of caracals in Iran where the trained caracals were let loose on a flock of feeding pigeons. The number of pigeons brought down before they could fly away decided the winner. The accord of caracal’s eye and foot is so perfect that champions killed 9 to 10 pigeons before the pigeons could leave the ground. Caracal rears its young ones in burrows of porcupines, hollows of trees and rock crevices.