The rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is one of the cat family's smallest members, of which historical records are known only from India and Sri Lanka. In 2012, it was also recorded in the western Terai of Nepal. Since 2016, the global wild population is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List as it is fragmented and affected by loss and destruction of prime habitat, deciduous forests.
(Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1834)
|Rusty-spotted cat range|
The rusty-spotted cat is the smallest wild cat in Asia and rivals the black-footed cat as the world's smallest wild cat. It is 35 to 48 cm (14 to 19 in) in length, with a 15 to 30 cm (5.9 to 11.8 in) tail, and weighs only 0.9 to 1.6 kg (2.0 to 3.5 lb). The short fur is grey over most of the body, with rusty spots over the back and flanks, while the underbelly is white with large dark spots. The darker colored tail is thick and about half the length of the body, and the spots are less distinct. There are six dark streaks on each side of the head, extending over the cheeks and forehead.
Felis rubiginosa was the scientific name used by Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1831 for a rusty-spotted cat specimen from Pondicherry, India. Prionailurus was proposed by Nikolai Severtzov in 1858 as a generic name. Prionailurus rubiginosus phillipsi was proposed by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1939 who described a specimen from Central Province, Sri Lanka and subordinated both to the genus Prionailurus.
The distribution of the rusty-spotted cat is relatively restricted. It occurs mainly in moist and dry deciduous forests as well as scrub and grassland, but is likely absent from evergreen forest. It prefers dense vegetation and rocky areas.
In India, it was long thought to be confined to the south, but records have established that it is found over much of the country. It was observed in eastern Gujarat's Gir National Park, in Maharashtra's Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve and along India's Eastern Ghats. Camera trapping revealed its presence in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in the Indian Terai and in Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra. In western Maharashtra, there is a breeding population of rusty-spotted cats in a human dominated agricultural landscape, where rodent densities are high. In December 2014 and in April 2015, it was photographed by camera traps in Kalesar National Park, Haryana.
In Sri Lanka, there are a few records from montane and lowland rainforest. There are two distinct populations, one in the dry zone and the other in the wet zone. In 2016, it was recorded for the first time in Horton Plains National Park at altitudes of 2,084–2,162 m (6,837–7,093 ft).
Very little is known about ecology and behaviour of rusty-spotted cats in the wild. Captive ones are mostly nocturnal but also briefly active during the day. Most wild ones were also recorded after dark. At Horton Plain National Park in Sri Lanka, they were mostly recorded between sunset and sunrise, with limited daytime activity. Several individuals were observed hiding in trees and in caves.
They feed mainly on rodents and birds, but may also hunt lizards, frogs, and insects. They hunt primarily on the ground, making rapid, darting movements to catch their prey. They apparently venture into trees to escape larger predators. Captive females and males both scent-mark their home range by spraying urine.
The female's oestrus lasts five days, and mating is unusually brief. Since the female is likely to be vulnerable during this period, its brevity may be an adaptation to help it avoid larger predators. She prepares a den in a secluded location, and after a gestation of 65–70 days gives birth to one or two kittens. At birth, the kittens weigh just 60 to 77 g (2.1 to 2.7 oz), and are marked with rows of black spots. They reach sexual maturity at around 68 weeks, by which time they have developed the distinctive adult coat pattern of rusty blotches. Rusty-spotted cats have lived for twelve years in captivity, but their lifespan in the wild is unknown.
Habitat loss and the spread of cultivation are serious problems for wildlife in both India and Sri Lanka. Although there are several records of rusty-spotted cats from cultivated and settled areas, it is not known to what degree cat populations are able to persist in such areas. There have been occasional reports of rusty-spotted cat skins in trade. In some areas, they are hunted for food or as livestock pests.
The Indian population is listed on CITES Appendix I. The Sri Lankan population is included on CITES Appendix II. The species is fully protected over most of its range, with hunting and trade banned in India and Sri Lanka.
As of 2010, the captive population of P. r. phillipsi comprised 56 individuals in eight institutions, of which 11 individuals were kept in the Colombo Zoo in Sri Lanka and 45 individuals in seven European zoos.
In Sri Lanka, the rusty-spotted cat is known as "kola diviya" or "balal diviya".
The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes), also called small-spotted cat, is the smallest African cat and endemic to the southwestern arid zone of Southern Africa. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the population is suspected to be declining due to bushmeat poaching of prey species, persecution, traffic accidents and predation by domestic animals.Dang District, India
Dang (Listen ) is a district in the state of Gujarat in India. The administrative headquarters of the district are located in Ahwa. Dang has an area of 1,764 km² and a population of 226,769 (as of 2011).As of 2011 it is the least populous district of Gujarat (out of 33). As per the Planning Commission, Dang is one of the most economically distressed district out of 640 districts in India. The main language spoken in this district is Konkani and 98% of the population belongs to one of the scheduled tribes.The five Adivasi Kings of Dangs are the only hereditary royals in India whose titles are currently recognized by the government owing to an agreement made during the British Raj in 1842.Felid hybrid
A felid hybrid is any of a number of hybrid between various species of the cat family, Felidae. This article deals with hybrids between the species of the subfamily Felinae (feline hybrids). For hybrids between two species of the genus Panthera (lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards), see Panthera hybrid. There are no known hybrids between Neofelis (the clouded leopard) and other genera. By contrast, many genera of Felinae are interfertile with each other, though few hybridize under natural conditions, and not all combinations are likely to be viable (e.g. between the tiny rusty-spotted cat and the leopard-sized cougar).Felinae
The Felinae is a subfamily of the family Felidae that comprises the small cats that have a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.Other authors proposed an alternative definition for this subfamily: as comprising only the living conical-toothed cat genera with two tribes, the Felini and Pantherini; thus excluding all fossil cat species.Hurulu Forest Reserve
Hurulu Forest Reserve of Sri Lanka was designated as a biosphere reserve in January 1977. The forest reserve is an important habitat of the Sri Lankan elephant. Hurulu forest reserve represents Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests. There are many other protected areas situated around Hurulu Forest Reserve viz. Ritigala strict nature reserve, Minneriya-Girithale and Mahaweli flood plains nature reserves, Wasgamuwa National Park and Kahalla-Pallekele sanctuary. Carved out at the edge of the Hurulu Forest Reserve is the Hurulu Eco Park which offers jeep safaris.Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary
Jambughoda is a Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Jambughoda Tehsil, in the South-Central part of Gujarat, and the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests' ecoregion in India. It located 70 km from Vadodara and 20 km from prominent tourist places such as Pawagadh and Champaner.Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary
The Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest located near Visakhapatnam. It is under the control of Andhra Pradesh Forest Department since 10 March 1970. Earlier the land was under the control of Maharajah of Vizianagaram. It was named after the local hillock Kambalakonda. It is a dry evergreen forest mixed with scrub and meadows and covers an area of 70.70 square kilometers. The indicator species is the Indian leopard.Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests
The Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests is a mostly arid ecoregion in northwestern India that stretches over 103,100 sq mi (267,000 km2) across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The dry deciduous forests in the region are dominated by teak, and thorny trees and scrub in drier areas.Lutrogale
Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.Mephitis (genus)
The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.Nyctereutes
Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.
Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.Papikonda National Park
Papikonda National Park (Papi Hills) is located in East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, covering an area of 1,012.86 km2 (391.07 sq mi).. It is an Important Bird and Biodiversity area and home to some endangered species of flora and fauna. No part of Papikonda remains outside East and West Godavari districts after 2014 and after the construction of Polavaram Dam.Paradoxurus
Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:
the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)
the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)
the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.Prionailurus
Prionailurus is a genus of spotted, small wild cats native to Asia. Forests are their preferred habitat; they feed on small mammals, reptiles and birds, some also on aquatic wildlife.Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in India's Gujarat state, located in the western Satpura Range south of the Narmada River and is 607.7 km2 (234.6 sq mi) large. It shares a common boundary with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It encompasses mixed dry deciduous forest, riverine forest, few pockets of moist teak forest, agricultural fields and two water reservoirs.
It was established in 1982.Shuklaphanta National Park
Shuklaphanta National Park is a protected area in the Terai of the Far-Western Region, Nepal, covering 305 km2 (118 sq mi) of open grassland, forests, riverbeds and tropical wetlands at an altitude of 174 to 1,386 m (571 to 4,547 ft). It was gazetted in 1976 as Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. A small part of the reserve extends north of the East-West Highway to create a corridor for seasonal migration of wildlife into the Sivalik Hills. The Syali River forms the eastern boundary southward to the international border with India, which demarcates the reserve’s southern and western boundary.The Indian Tiger Reserve Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous in the south; this coherent protected area of 439 km2 (169 sq mi) represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Sukla Phanta-Kishanpur, which covers a 1.897 km2 (0.732 sq mi) block of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests.The protected area is part of the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion and is one of the best-conserved examples of floodplain grassland. It is included in the Terai Arc Landscape.Small Cat Conservation Alliance
The Small Cat Conservation Alliance (SCCA) was founded in 1996, to address the conservation needs of small wild cats and their habitat worldwide. Small Cat Conservation Alliance seeks out local scientists and volunteers that are working to protect small cats in remote regions worldwide. They collect data that can be used to seek endangered species classification. SCCA operates in Kalimantan (Borneo), Sumatra, Chile, and China; and works with partners in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Sarawak, Suriname and Vietnam. The Small Cat Conservation is also partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Network.As at March 2019, on its website (below) the organization calls itself the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation.Vansda National Park
Vansda National Park, also known as Bansda National Park, is a protected area which represents the thick woodlands of the Dangs and southern Gujarat, and is situated in the Vansda tehsil, Navsari District of Gujarat State, India. Riding on the banks of Ambika River and measuring roughly 24 km2 in area, the park lies about 65 km east of the town of Chikhali on the National Highway 8, and about 80 km north-east of the city of Valsad. Vansda, the town from which the name of the park is derived, is an important trading place for the surrounding area where the majority of the population is represented by adivasis. Vansda-Waghai state highway runs through the park, so does the narrow gauge rail link connecting Ahwa to Billimora.Established in 1979 as a National Park, the deciduous forest area having groves of "Katas" bamboo owes its beauty to no felling of trees since 1952. Nestled in the Western Ghats of Sahyadri range, it has a unique flavour of flora and fauna population.Apart from the botanical garden, some of the other attractions include local tribes, "Gira Falls", and the "Conservation center". As a part of developing ecotourism Gujarat Government has developed a campsite at Kilad. There is also a deer breeding center maintained by Nature Club Surat in this region.
The best time to visit is post-monsoon season till winter when the forests are lush green and streams are full.
Extant Carnivora species