Tale of a mystery cat echoes on Anamudi hills

Myth or reality? Pogeyan has been reportedly spotted in the high-altitude grasslands of the Anamudi forest.  

Is ‘Pogeyan’ a myth or a fact? A big cat, grey in colour, is apparently leading a reclusive life in the high-altitude grasslands of the Anamudi forest on the Western Ghats. Local tribespeople call it ‘Pogeyan’ ostensibly because of its colour, that of smoke. However, wildlife enthusiasts, ever in pursuit of the creature, are yet to capture a photograph of it. So, the aura of the mystery cat remains; it appears and disappears like the mist.

The first reference of Pogeyan can be found in a painting by a Britisher. Twenty-three years ago, wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur and a group of tribespeople claimed to have spotted it on the Anamudi grasslands. Before Sandesh could photograph it, the huge cat disappeared. The tribespeople insisted that it was Pogeyan.

‘A possibility’

When The Mountains of the Monsoon by Sandesh and James Zacharia was released in 2008, Pogeyan became a talking point among wildlife enthusiasts. Forest Department officials too do not dismiss Pogeyan as myth. “There are unexplored flora and fauna in the Marayur forest landscape which stretches from an altitude of 200-metre MSL (mean sea level) to 2,694-metre MSL. The 22-km stretch hosts the most diverse flora and fauna. Just because Pogeyan has not been photographed, once cannot conclude that the animal does not exist,” said M.G. Vinod Kumar, Marayur Range Officer. Local tribespeople had vividly described sightings of Pogeyan, he added.

Some time ago, a white wild gaur was photographed in the same forestland, which is also the only natural habitat of star tortoise and grizzled giant squirrel in the State. Pogeyan came back to reckoning when the photo of the white wild gaur was released. Those who attributed the gaur’s peculiarity to albinism, argued that Pogeyan was a mutant leopard. The other camp, insistent on a ‘new species’, countered by listing the feline’s ‘unique features.’

The Mystery Cats of the World (1989) or other authentic books have no reference of Pogeyan. The mystery, however, is bound to remain.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:39:23 PM |

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