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Assessing the habitat use, suitability and activity pattern of the rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus in Kanha Tiger Reserve, India

  • Jayanta Kumar Bora ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Neha Awasthi , Ujjwal Kumar , Shravana Goswami , Anup Pradhan , Ashish Prasad , Deb Ranjan Laha , Rakesh Shukla , Sanjay Kumar Shukla , Qamar Qureshi and Yadvendradev V. Jhala
From the journal Mammalia


The rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus is the smallest wildcat in the world, endemic to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Although new occurrence records have recently been reported from different geographic localities in India and Nepal, there is still a lack of information on its biology and habitat use that are required for its conservation planning. Herein, we report results from systematic, long-term (2014–2018) camera trapping in Kanha Tiger Reserve, India, to evaluate the habitat use, suitability and activity pattern of the rusty-spotted cat and model its local distribution with habitat and anthropogenic covariates. Thick canopied forest and rugged terrain were found to be extensively used and preferred by the rusty-spotted cat. It was also recorded in the multiple-use buffer zone forests in close proximity to agriculture. The species is nocturnal and its activity seems to coincide with its major prey. The guiding philosophy of tiger reserves in India is to use the tiger as an umbrella species for biodiversity conservation, and often these reserves are intensively managed to enhance tiger and prey populations. This approach, however, may not cater to the requirements of other less charismatic sympatric species, and those of the rusty-spotted cat also need to be considered for its continued survival.


We thank the Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh and the Management of KTR for permission and logistics for the study. We thank the present and former Field Directors and Deputy Directors for logistic support. This study was funded by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, New Delhi-110003, India, Grant Number: YVJ/WII/PH-4/NTCA/78, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change, Government of India. We thank our field assistants, Nirottam and Kanhaiya, and all the frontline staff of Kanha Tiger Reserve for their help in field data collection and Swati Saini and Ninad Shastri for GIS and technical support.

  1. Author contributions: Study design: YVJ, QQ; field work: JKB, NA, UK, RS, SG, AP, AP, DL; data analysis and writing the article: JKB, NA, UK, YVJ; logistic: YVJ, QQ, RS, SS.

  2. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2019-03-19
Accepted: 2020-01-22
Published Online: 2020-02-22
Published in Print: 2020-09-25

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