Big Cats Roam Free: Tigers & Caracals Loose in India and Sag Harbor – Can Calvin Klein Help?

Caracal wild cat
Caracal wild cat, Photo: iStock

A week ago Thursday, two items of local interest appeared in the news that I think should be considered together.

The first is about a wild cat native to India and Africa now lurking in a wood near Carroll Street in Sag Harbor. It’s a carnivore, and should not be in our community. It feeds on small animals, such as your dog.

Local resident Steven Wright took a photograph of the cat near Carroll Street and brought it to the attention of the police. It’s a side view of a cat, about four feet long, maybe 40 pounds. Its facial features are that of a cougar, but the rest—well, the creature stretches out about five feet from head to tip of tail.

It’s short-haired and tan with white markings. Experts say it is a caracal. Caracals, according to Wikipedia, are nocturnal animals who usually travel in pairs. They hunt small mammals and birds that they can catch in flight by leaping as high as 9.8 feet. They have long, sharp, canine teeth and kill by biting the throat of their prey.

If you see this animal slinking along on your lawn, do not try to catch it. Call the police, who will arrange for a humane way of catching it and returning it to its home country.

Caracals are not on an endangered list, but they are on the list of dangerous animalslions, tigers, bobcats, alligators—that private citizens cannot keep in captivity in the state of New York.

As of this writing, a week later, the caracal remains at large (see The Sag Harbor Express video below).

The second story concerns one of our local residents, Calvin Klein, and a perfume his company has on the market called “Obsession.”

Last Wednesday, the Indian government released a study, two years in the making, describing their inability to capture a man-eating tiger in and around the city of Maharashtra. Indian news agencies say this particular tiger has killed more than a dozen people.

The study says that efforts to capture this creature, which they call T1, have been numerous. They set out 100 camera traps, they strapped horses and goats to trees as bait, they sent out armed police patrol and rangers up to treetops to keep watch, but it’s been all to no avail.

But now, a wildlife veterinarian named Dr. Prayag H.S. has read this recent report and has contacted the Indian authorities to urge them to try marking trees and shrubs with Calvin Klein’s Obsession.

A study done in America at the Bronx Zoo a few years ago showed that dabs of Obsession attracted large cats. One of Obsession’s ingredients is a synthetically manufactured scent exactly matching civit, a kind of musk that exists in animal urine that cats in India and Africa use to mark their territory. In the Bronx Zoo study, marks of Obsession successfully attracted a leopard.

After reading this study in 2016, Dr. Prayag, a practicing veterinarian in India, tried Obsession and soon captured a man-eating tiger. Now, reading this new government report, he took additional action by reaching out to the authorities there.

The answer to capturing these cats, both in Maharashtra and in Sag Harbor, is to get lots and lots of beautiful men and women to go to the Calvin Klein store, buy Obsession, apply it, be given large nets, and have them mill around in the towns of Maharashtra and Sag Harbor, but not in the woods.

Dr. Prayag wears Obsession himself.

“I do use it, actually,” he said in a story on NPR radio. “It gives a pleasant smell.”

Incidentally, both osprey and now eagles are nesting and flying about on the eastern end of Long Island. Both of these birds, the first with a wingspan of five feet and the second with a wingspan of six-and-a-half feet, are capable of swooping down and grabbing a small mammal such as your little chihuahua and flying off with him or her. There’s never been a report that this has happened as far as I know. Maybe these big birds are happy snatching rodents and moles and don’t feel it’s worth it to deal with larger, struggling mammals.

Finally, the photo of the caracal appears to show this animal wearing a red collar with some sort of tag on it.

Now that makes this a whole other story.

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