Thursday, January 20, 2000

The Wild Dogs & Cats You Don't Know

Think of wild dogs and cats and perhaps an ill-behaved pet comes to mind -- but, their truly wild, as in jungle-dwelling. cousins do exist: the wild dog and the jungle cat.

The Indian Wild Dog is an endangered species of canid found in India and Southeast Asia. It belongs to a genus different than the familiar canis and differs from them in both teeth structure (fewer number of molars) and mammaries (greater number of teats).


In behavior, the Indian wild dog matches the African -- highly social; they hunt in well-coordinated packs to tire out their prey before disemboweling them, and let their pups eat first (compare to wolves). However, their behavioral similarities do not result from shared genetics -- African wild dogs are more closely related to wolves and coyotes while Indian wild dogs are closer to jackals.


Compared to the endangered wild dog [all photographs taken at Bandipur National Park], jungle cats, are classified as "Least Concern" and have greater distribution and higher numbers.


This cat is twice the size of your average "fluffy" at home. Looking like a miniature lynx, the jungle cat is a great hunter and stalker.


Although a common predator in many parts of the world, it's nevertheless facing pressures from hybridization (with domestic cats), persecution, and habitat loss. At Sultanpur National Park where these photographs were taken, they can be seen regularly if you're incredibly quiet and patient.


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