Captured! Wild cat on the loose in Fujairah found; owner fined

The caracal has now been handed over to a zoo, which will provide the appropriate care and environment for the animal

by

Laraib Anwer

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Photo: Owner of RAK Zoo, Jasem Ali, with the caracal after it was found
Photo: Owner of RAK Zoo, Jasem Ali, with the caracal after it was found

Published: Tue 7 May 2024, 4:25 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 May 2024, 11:37 PM

Authorities in Fujairah have captured a wild cat that was spotted on the loose in a residential area located near the mountains.

As clips of the cat began going viral on Monday, specialised teams from the Fujairah Environment Authority immediately moved to identify the location of the wild cat.


Speaking to Khaleej Times, the Director of the Fujairah Environment Agency, Aseela Moalla, said that a UAE citizen was identified as the owner of the animal. The citizen cooperated with authorities, handing over the wild cat and acknowledging his ignorance about whether it was legal to own such an animal.

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As per Moalla, three people were involved in capturing the wild cat, which was not aggressive at the time. The animal was found in the same area where the video was shot. Here is the original video of the caracal:

A hefty fine has been levied on the owner. While the authority did not reveal the exact amount, according to UAE law the penalty for owning a dangerous animal without registration begins at Dh10,000 and could go up to Dh500,000.

The caracal has now been handed over to a zoo, which will provide the appropriate care and environment for the animal.

Moalla added that caracals fall within the red category of the CITES agreement, and are protected by local and federal laws that prohibit their possession or trade. These medium-sized wild cats are known to inhabit the Hajar mountain range and can jump 10 ft into the air to catch their prey. They also play an important role in the country's ecosystem.

What to do if you come across a wild cat

While instances of encountering wild animals roaming freely in the UAE are rare, in the event residents come face to face with one, the authority advises that they remain as calm as possible and avoid aggravating the situation in any way. If the animal does not receive a threat, it is likely not to attack or harm those in its way.

Some initial reports suggested the wild animal spotted on the prowl in Fujairah was a lynx. The authority, however, clarified that it was a caracal — a creature often confused with the lynx, which is also a medium-sized wild cat. The lynx is comparatively furrier than the caracal in appearance. The latter is also nicknamed 'desert lynx', which adds to the confusion; however, it is not a part of the lynx family.

The authority calls on members of the public who own dangerous animals to register them with the authority as soon as possible, and to report land and marine animals or any environmental complaints via the toll-free number 800368.

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