Pug marks scare residents near forest areas in Sholavaram; it’s just a jackal, say officials

Suspicions of wild cat movement in their area kept residents near Sholavaram, north of the city, on vigil for two days.

The situation became tense after a resident found big pug marks in forest areas in Allimedu village near Sholavaram on Friday. While locals suspected it was a leopard, the pug marks indicated the presence of a jackal.

Senior forest officials, on Saturday, confirmed this, after The Hindu showed the pictures of the pug marks. They said the pub marks do not match those of the big cat family, including those of the leopard and wild cat, for at least two reasons.

Firstly, footprints of big cats would be of folded nails whereas the pug marks showed sharp nail indentations. Such sharp nails are found only in animals such as domestic dogs, wolves and jackals. Secondly, all animals that belong to the cat family have five nails but in the pug marks, only four nails are seen.

“Based on the pug marks, in terms of their shape, length and impact on soil, the animal seems to be an adult male jackal. Generally, an adult male jackal is slightly bigger than a female jackal,” said a senior biologist.

On Friday, a team of forest officials led by V.C. Rahul, district forest officer (DFO) in Tiruvallur, inspected forest areas in four villages such as Allimedu, Serkadu, Orakkadu and Bhoodalam near Sholavaram.

S. Nagaraj (37) of the tribal community in Allimedu village near Sholavaram said he saw a brownish animal at a distance of roughly 50 feet around 6 a.m. on Friday when he was on his way to his neighbour’s farmland.

“It was brown in colour and had a big head with fur. When I saw the animal, I ran away in fear,” said Nagaraj. The team found pug marks on the pathway in the wooded areas that have a large track of cashew trees in Allimedu village. Immediately, a search was launched by the team but they were unable to find any big cat.

A team of forest officials have been deployed in the forest areas to keep a vigil on the movement of wild animals. 

Residents said a decade ago, a leopard was found in the forest areas covering these villages and was trapped. Forest officials said the border areas between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have a substantial population of leopards.

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