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Monday, January 16, 2012

DAN HOLDSWORTH: Afghan mystery cats


I saw this blog post from a war correspondent who has extensively covered Afganistan. Apparently there have long been rumoursof very large cats in Kandahar province of Afganistan, which the locals usually laughed off as mere supposition.However, when the US soldiery started seeing these cats on night vision and even thermal imaging kit (the US Army has some quite incredible technology these days) they were taken seriously. Here are photos of one such cat.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Sadly there is no scale given.

According to Wikipedia, the following species of felid live in Afghanistan (although I would question the lion):

Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Acinonyx
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus VU
Genus: Caracal
Caracal Caracal caracal LC
Genus: Felis

Jungle Cat Felis chaus LC
Sand Cat Felis margarita NT
Wildcat Felis silvestris LC
Pallas's Cat Felis manul NT

Genus: Lynx
Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx NT

Genus: Prionailurus
Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis LC

Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera

Lion Panthera leo VU
Leopard Panthera pardus LC
Tiger Panthera tigris EN

Genus: Uncia
Snow Leopard Uncia uncia EN


Anonymous said...

Isn't that a snopw leopard? Rare but not unexpected, I should think

Retrieverman said...

I'm going with either jungle cat.

The jungle cat has the worst name of all common English names. I don't think any of them actually live in jungles.

The reason why I'm going with jungle cat is that it has tufts on the ears.

It's very rare in Afghanistan.

But zoological assays of Afghanistan's wildlife have really been lacking until-- ironically-- NATO occupied it.

Retrieverman said...

It's not a caracal.

Caracals are much darker tawny in color, and they don't have a black-tipped tail or any black stripes on it.

I think it can only be the jungle cat.

Ronboid said...

Certainly looks like a Snow Leopard to me.......with that bushy tail and the thick coat. The promise of ration packs in the winter must have brought it down...

Crypto_Seeker said...

It is a sand cat. Same coloration, size, tail banding pattern (the banding circles are more solid and less sporadic than the jungle cat). It also has wide ears which look like pyramids. The jungle cat doesn't. Again, the color of the fur as well.

twas_brillig said...

Almost certainly a Jungle Cat, just look at any picture and you'll see, and that's a very healthy winter coat it's wearing too.

Most definitely not a snow leopard, as the tail is far too short and the lack of any patterns on the fur except the tip of the tail which identifies it for a Jungle Cat.