Welcome to SNM IAS Academy for IAS Coaching in Chandigarh. Check out the Knowledge Center for latest Blogs, Articles and Current Affairs Tests

  • Call

  • Email



The National Board for Wildlife and Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change included the caracal, a medium-sized wildcat found in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, in the list of critically endangered species. Though not under grave threat in its other habitats, the animal is on the verge of extinction in India.

With the inclusion of this species from the cat family, now there are a total 22 wildlife species, including snow leopard, bustard (including floricans), dolphin, hangul, nilgiri tahr, marine turtles, dugongs to name a few under recovery programme for critically-endangered species in the country.

Though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) has not listed these species as endangered as there is a huge population of caracal cats present in the African continent. In India, their number has gotten very low and hence they are considered endangered species.

They are a rare species of the cat protected under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 found only in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

In fact, during the 2018 tiger census conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) just one caracal was photocaptured only in one camera trap from out of 150 camera traps locations for the entire session in Ranthambhore in Rajasthan. The location is situated in the north western part of Ranthambhore, this area is dominated with sparse vegetation with thorny scrub, said an official from the NTCA.

Similarly an incident of caracals attacking a man in Mirzapur has been documented by Bombay Natural History Society in its book “Wild Animals of India” published in 2004.

National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) approved inclusion of the species in the recovery programme which will ensure the species to have a separate conservation programme.

As per the programme, a population estimation will be done and a study on their habitat so that conservation measures can be taken accordingly.

The semi-arid region of Kutch is one of only two homes of this cat species in India.


  •  Besides India, the caracal is found in several dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia. While it flourishes in parts of Africa, its numbers in Asia are declining.

  •  The wildcat has long legs, a short face, long canine teeth, and distinctive ears — long and pointy, with tufts of black hair at their tips. The iconic ears are what give the animal its name — caracal comes from the Turkish karakulak, meaning ‘black ears’.

  •  In India, it is called siya gosh, a Persian name that translates as ‘black Ear’. A Sanskrit fable exists about a small wild cat named deergha-karn or ‘long-eared’.

  •  The caracal has traditionally been valued for its litheness and extraordinary ability to catch birds in flight; it was a favourite coursing or hunting animal in medieval India.

  •  The caracal’s use as a coursing animal is believed to have taken it far beyond its natural range to places like Ladakh in the north to Bengal in the east. The East India Company’s Robert Clive is said to have been presented with a caracal after he defeated Siraj-ud-daullah in the Battle of Plassey (1757).

According to a research report “Historical and current extent of occurrence of the Caracal in India”, the caracals’ presence has been noted in only three States, with just two possible viable populations.

These are in the marshy areas of Kutch district, the higher areas closer to Kalo Dungar with grassy scrubland; and in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur, Karoli, and Dholpur districts.

In Gujarat 19 sightings were reported, all in Kutch district, and nine of these were authenticated by photographs.

According to the earlier reports, there were around 18 sub-species of caracals present.

There are only 3 sub-species of caracals present.

Historically, the caracal was reported in 13 Indian States in nine out of 26 biotic provinces. Since 2001, caracals presence has been reported in only three States and four biotic provinces, with only two possible viable populations.

It is possible that the caracal might still be present but underreported in States like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and the eastern parts of India.

 Targeted surveys will be required to further verify and adjust the putative reduction in range size established by this study.

With the exception of a handful of studies, there has been virtually no contribution to the knowledge of Caracal ecology in India in the 21st century. Surveys on Caracal population size, reproduction, mortality, home range sizes, and prey dynamics are the need of the hour.

The caracal is rarely hunted or killed — in recent years, cases have been detected of the animal being captured to be sold as exotic pets — and the decline of its population is attributable mainly to loss of habitat and increasing urbanisation.

Experts point out that the caracal’s natural habitat — for example the Chambal ravines — is often officially notified as wasteland. Land and environment policies are not geared towards the preservation of such wasteland ecology, rather they seek to ‘reclaim’ these areas to make them arable.

Infrastructure projects such as the building of roads lead to the fragmentation of the caracal’s ecology and disruption of its movement. The loss of habitat also affects the animal’s prey which includes small ungulates and rodents.

The listing of the caracal as critically endangered is expected to bring central funding to conservation efforts. It is likely to ensure that the animal is studied comprehensively for the first time, including its home range, population, prey, etc.

Such study will also throw light on the much neglected “wastelands” in the country, which are home to a large number of animal and bird species, including leopards, Asiatic wild cats, rust spotted cats, sloth bears, wolves, wild dogs, civets, etc.

Call Us