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Indian Desert Cat

Indian Desert Cat

The Indian Desert Cat, also called the Asiatic Wildcat or Asian Steppe Wildcat, has just been seen for the first time in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR)! It’s like discovering a new friend in the wild.

About Indian Desert Cat

  • Indian Desert Cat is also known as the Asian steppe wildcat and Asiatic Wildcat.
  • The cat is considered as a subspecies of African Wildcat. It is mostly found in Kazakhstan, western India, China and Mongolia.
  • Habitat: The cat is found in deserts and can survive without water. The toes of the species have cushion-like hair which helps them to balance the fluctuating desert temperatures.
  • In India, the Asiatic wildcat inhabits the Thar Desert and is associated with the scrub desert.
  • The cat has also been recorded in Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Mirzapur forests.

Key Points

Common Name: Thar Desert Wildcat

Description: The Thar Desert Wildcat, scientifically known as Felis silvestris ornata, is a fascinating creature native to the Thar desert in Rajasthan, India. It thrives in scrub desert areas and can be found in arid and semi-arid regions of western India, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra up to Pune and Nagpur. Remarkably, this cat has adapted to desert life and can survive without regular access to water.

Habitat: The Thar Desert Wildcat is primarily found in scrub deserts, with an elevation range of 2,000-3,000 meters. It also inhabits mountainous areas with sufficient vegetation and temperate forests. Although it usually stays close to water sources, it can adapt to low-water areas and is not averse to human settlements. However, it tends to avoid vast deserts, dense forests, and areas with deep snow.

Unique Features: One distinctive feature of this wildcat is the cushion-like hair on its toes, which helps it balance in the fluctuating desert temperatures.


  • The Thar Desert Wildcat possesses beautiful soft fur, making it a target in the international fur trade.
  • Crossbreeding with domestic cats poses a threat, leading to the loss of genetic diversity. Hybridisation has been reported in Pakistan and Central Asia, and it’s likely a concern in India as well.
  • Conflict with humans has resulted in poaching, posing a significant threat to the survival of these wildcats.
  • Land use changes contribute to habitat destruction and reduced quality, placing the Thar Desert Wildcat under heavy pressure.
  • Rodenticides and other chemicals may also pose a risk to the well-being of this species.

Conservation Note: Efforts to protect the Thar Desert Wildcat should focus on addressing these threats, including regulating the fur trade, managing hybridisation risks, and implementing measures to reduce conflict with humans. Conservation initiatives should also address habitat preservation and the responsible use of chemicals in the wildcat’s environment.

Read Also: Tiger Census Data Reveals 3,167 Tigers in 2022: PM launched the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA)

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