This cat is so small, science is forgetting it

The rusty spotted cat inhabits the forests of A.P. and shares its habitat with the tiger.

November 24, 2016 08:06 pm | Updated November 25, 2016 05:01 am IST - VIJAYAWADA:

A rusty-spotted cat in a zoo in Andhra Pradesh.

A rusty-spotted cat in a zoo in Andhra Pradesh.

The rusty spotted cat, one of the few wild cats that inhabit the forests of Andhra Pradesh, is among the animals in the Eastern Ghats that need more research support. That is the message researchers are carrying to a forthcoming Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) meeting in Washington D.C.

Reputed to be the smallest wild cat at about half the size of its domestic cousin, the rusty spotted species shares its habitat with the tiger.

Both tigers and rusty spotted cats inhabit the Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh.

The State is one of the few where wildlife enthusiasts can study both ends of the cat spectrum in the same sanctuary. Yet, while the tiger is closely monitored, little is known about the status of the rusty spotted cat ( Prionailurus rubiginosus ). The species has been recorded in India and Sri Lanka, but it has been sighted in Nepal also in recent times.

Many wildlife experts describe it as the smallest cat species in the wild, though some some say the African black-footed cat qualifies for that status.

The small Indian cat is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List, but its health in the Eastern Ghats is not clear, says Murthy Kantimahanti, founder, Eastern Ghats Wild Life Society (EGWS) . While the cat is said to be present in all forests in the Eastern Ghats, no significant study has been done, he says.

Mr. Murthy has been invited to the conservation meeting in Washington D.C where he would urge that more research is done on various wildlife species of the Eastern Ghats.

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