Rusty-spotted Cat, Maharashtra

Vidya Athreya
Are Rusty-spotted Cats more common than we think?

The Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is the smallest wild cat species that occurs only in India and Sri Lanka. Available information relies on a few sightings across its range and the species is thought to be rare. I discovered a breeding population of rusty spotted cats from a human-dominated agricultural landscape in W. Maharashtra. I propose that we should also focus on agricultural landscapes, which are likely to have high rodent densities, to study some of the smaller wild cat species of India.

This image of a rusty-spotted cat carrying a rodent which was photographed in the camera trap set up for obtaining leopard images! At the same site, on the same night, a rusty-spotted cub was also photographed. We also obtained images of jungle cats in the camera traps. Rodents are abundant in agricultural landscapes allowing these cat species to take up residence even outside Protected Areas in India.

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Vidya is an ecologist working for the last 8 years on interactions between a large cat (the leopard) and humans when they share the same space. She is interested in understanding the drivers of man-animal conflict in the backdrop of the socio-cultural ethos in India which inspires tolerance for other life forms.


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