A rusty-spotted cat,the worlds smallest species of wild cat,which is considered vulnerable to extinction,has been seen in Kutch for the first time.
Vaibhav Mishra,a naturalist,said he spotted one sitting under a bush atop a rock in the Bird Rock area of the Chhari Dandh Wetland Reserve in Kutch,a Ramsar site candidate.
I was looking for jungle cats when I saw it. I saw the white belly and the long tail and said,Ive never seen this before. I took out my camera and clicked a few pictures. Luckily one came out very nicely, said Mishra over phone from Bharatpur in Rajasthan,where he lives.
I went home and checked the Internet and found it seemed to be a rusty spotted cat. I shared the picture with Jugal Tiwari (a well-known wild-lifer from the district) and he sent it to small-cat expert Shomita Mukherjee. She has confirmed it was the rare rusty spotted cat, he said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its red list of endangered species tags the species as vulnerable to extinction and that it was for long thought to exist only in Sri Lanka and southern India.
IFS officer and current director of the state-run GEER Foundation,Dr Bharat Pathak,spotted one in the Gir Forest in 1990. The cat is also believed to exist in the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary in Narmada district and in Jambhugodha sanctuary,about 70 kms from Vadodara.
P A Vihol,Deputy Conservator of Forests (Kutch West),confirmed that this is the first time a rusty spotted cat has been spotted in Kutch.