In some good news to wildlife enthusiasts, a camera-trapping exercise at Uttar Pradesh's Pilibhit forests has revealed presence of rare species like the world's smallest cat and four-horned antelope.
A part of the Terai landscape, Pilibhit forests are spread over an area of 700 sq km and waiting to be declared as tiger reserve as they have a large number of big cats, including breeding females, besides a healthy prey-base.
"Presence of rusty-spotted cats and four-horned antelopes, locally called as Chausingha, was hardly known in the region and it was only when they were trapped by the cameras that their presence was revealed," said Harish Kumar of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
WWF-India had deployed the cameras for the ongoing tiger census in association with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), and the state forest department.
During the tiger monitoring exercise in Pilibhit which strategically connects Dudhwa tiger reserve and Nepal's Suklaphanta national park through the Lagga Bagga forests, the team had conducted the camera trap study between May-June.
An arboreal and nocturnal feline, the rusty-spotted cat is the smallest member of the cat family and exclusively found in the Indian subcontinent.
It is believed to be a miniature version of the Leopard Cat weighing between two and three pounds, having typically ruddy grey coat with reddish or rust-coloured small spots patterned with lines from the neck to tail.
The feline is under vulnerable category of Red list of threatened species and protected under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act.
"Rusty-spotted cat was captured in camera trap during four different occasions at three camera stations in these forests. Also fishing cat and jungle cat (Felis chaus) were clicked frequently," Kumar said.
Little is known about the Chausingha which leads a very secretive life and are mostly found in central India. It is often confused with the muntjac and the hog deer.