Rare and threatened rusty-spotted cat seen after 10 years in Uttar Pradesh
Even as a tiger census is presently underway, two rare wildlife species - a rusty spotted cat and a coral red kukri snake- were spotted by H Rajamohan, director of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh, during a stroll in the forest.
The rusty-spotted cat, known to be the smallest member of the cat family, was spotted in Mala range while the coral red kukri snake was sighted in the Haripur range. The first picture of the cat was captured 10 years ago by camera traps installed in the PTR for the tiger census, but the feline was not seen since then.
“I rediscovered the elusive cat last week during a usual patrolling in the Mala range. This was first reported in 2011 by Akhtar Mian, a bird lover and naturalist in Haripur range and by World Wide Fund (WWF) during a routine camera trapping exercise. It has been spotted after a decade”, said Rajamohan.
“It needs to be conserved because it is listed in schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This little carnivore survives on insects, birds and rodents,” he said. The rusty-spotted cat is classified as ‘threatened species’ in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
He has ordered forest personnel to collect all possible details about this tiny cat in the reserve so that a conservation plan for this rare species can be worked out.“This cat is nocturnal by nature. It is merely 35-45 cm in length and weighs about 1.5 kg. Its survival is being threatened due to the loss of its habitat,” he said.
Meanwhile, the coral red kukri snake was spotted in Sonaripur forest range of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), in 2018 and then in Chitwan National Park in Nepal that lies close to the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar.
Rajamohan said that like rusty-spotted cat, the snake was also nocturnal in nature and normally preyed on earthworms and larvae. Its innate characteristic was to remain underground most of the time.
It is rarely seen on the ground during the daytime. Coral red kukri is listed in schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act.
Meanwhile, the census to ascertain the number of big cats in Barahi and Haripur range of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) is presently underway. More than six hundred camera traps have been installed by forest officials for the exercise which is usually taken on an annual basis this time of the year. The cameras for tiger census have been provided by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
“All these cameras will record the activity of the tigers in the region for 35 days. A similar census would then be conducted in the Mahof and Mala ranges after which we will download the captured data from these cameras and analyze it with the help of experts,” said Rajamohan.
“Our eight-member team will monitor the cameras to ensure they are working fine. If anything goes wrong with the camera the team will replace it,” said WWF senior project officer Naresh Kumar. Located near the Indo-Nepal border in Pilibhit district, the PTR is one of the newest tiger reserves in the country. The results of the last year’s census were not officially declared by the PTR. However, according to National Tiger Conservation Authority, the reserve was said to have 65 tigers.