The study is aimed at finding out the abundance, ecology and habitat preference of these cats.
Mumbai: On record, only six rusty-spotted cats are being held captive in and around the city, but no survey has been carried out to find out how many of these endangered felines are about in the wild. A team comprising Shomita Mukherjee, a scientist with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology (SACON) in Coimbatore — which is associated with the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) — and world-renowned photographer Nayan Khanolkar, among others, is conducting a survey for the forest department in and around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) to learn about the lifestyle of rusty-spotted cats and other small felines.
The study is aimed at finding out the abundance, ecology and habitat preference of these cats. Rusty-spotted cats are categorised as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Ms Mukherjee, a panellist with the IUCN who’s working as the project’s principal investigator, explained, “Mumbai’s SGNP was chosen, as its located in the middle of the city, which has a forest. Rusty-spotted cats are found only in India, Sri Lanka and at the Indo-Nepal border.”
Speaking about the study, Mr Khanolkar said, “SGNP is always associated with leopards. Research work was done in 2011 and 2016 and a baseline was set that the park is home to 35 leopards. Similarly, this study will help us analyse their (the cats’) basic population in and around the park.”
The researchers, who met the forest department officials on Saturday, will begin with training from Sunday after which fieldwork will commence from May 1.