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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Indian Cheetah

What was Indian Cheetah Like?

Captain Forsyth has described the Cheetah in India. According to him the animal lived in outskirts of  was capable of chase but preferred to ambush from behind the rocks. There is a hypothesis that speaks of Cheetah being brought to India by the Mughals.  

Last of these was shot in Korea District of Chhattishgarh State in India. The closest species is the Iranian Cheetah with marked similarity. I have been searching for records or write up on this carnivore in India without success.

One reason I can make out for its extinction is the loss of habitat due to colonization and expanding agriculture. Perhaps it was a greater menace on live stock and hence shot down. Cheetah and Leopard both seem to have confused locals as being the same animals, these misunderstandings exists till date although the former is absent. This confusion prevails even between Leopard and Panther, Tendua & Gulbaag, which are names of the same animal.    

Unlike leopard, the cheetah appears to be very fragile with greater dependency on niche habitat and specific prey base.Growing human presence could also be the reason. The carnivore could as well have been brought from outside by the Mughals to hunt black buck. 

During the tectonic plate movement  animals like leopard and lions where on board. But this animal appears to be endemic since in absence of large savannah grasslands the African Cheetah would have found difficult to survive. Anyway most of the grassland ecosystems in India are small and had been taken over by man centuries back.

Could it be possible that some of these animals still survive in our forest peripheries? People even if they see this animal may be mistaking it for the leopard. There still remain unexplored regions which may one day spring surprise like the tiger did in Nauradehi. With the entry of the tiger, Cheetah could have gone nocturnal and elusive like its cousin.

Keep a lookout when you drive through natural places!         
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