THRISSUR: With the pug marks of a new species of Big Cat first identified at Neyyar Dam in September 2014, found clearly matching the ones seen at Kanjani in Thrissur on March 8, a debate over the new species named ‘Neelagiri Kaduva’ is heating up among wildlife officials and wildlife conservationists.
Wildlife expert Dijo Thomas said that this species is reddish brown in colour, has the shape and size similar to that of a Leopard with the face of a dog. The new species that has been found is claimed to be the eighth Big Cat in the world after the Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Cheetah and Mountain Lion.
Thomas, who is presently camped in Kanjani, said that from all the data collected over a period of 12 years from all over Kerala, various conclusions have been drawn and the animal is third in size after the Tiger and Lion.
The new species belongs to an entirely new family with the features of both Feline and Canid families. Mr Dijo said that this could be the common ancestor species from which the present day cat and dog families evolved.
Thought he has not yet spotted the animal and is yet to click the photograph of the animal, it has been proved scientifically through a methodology called Feature Based-Species Elimination Method (FB-SEM) which he has devised and was approved by scientists present in the 103rd Indian Science Congress.
A scientific paper on this new species, ‘NeelagiriKaduva’, was presented at the Indian Science Congress held at the University of Mysore in January 2016.
Even though the pug marks of ‘NeelagiriKaduva’ are similar to that of the tiger, it has three distinguishing features, the most important being that all the marks have claws clearly visible, implying that the claws are non-retractable.
However, officials of the Wildlife Department in Kerala are still of the view that it is only a wild cat and not a new species. But the wildlife experts in the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) are of the opinion that more studies need to be conducted in the wake of the findings in Neyyar and Kanjani. But the conservationists say they are ready for a open debate with the officials of KFRI and Forest Department....