Compared to other species, rusty-spotted cats have a relatively restricted and fragmented distribution and only occur in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
Compared to other species, rusty-spotted cats have a relatively restricted distribution and only occur in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
The cat’s prime habitat is found in three broad regions in India, which indicates a fragmented population. The species was originally thought to occur only in the southern part of India, but records are now known from across the country.
The northern-most location where the species has been sighted is in the Pilibhit forest division in the Indian Terai region in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The first sighting of the animal in Central India was in the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharastra. The cat has since been spotted in many parts of Maharastra, including West Maharastra where a breeding population was identified. The species is also found in the Varushanad Valley, Western Ghats, part of a biodiversity hotspot.
Rusty-spotted cats also live in the state of Gujarat, where they occur in semi-arid, dry, tropical, and deciduous forests in the center of the state and also in the city of Navagam. These cats inhabit the the Nugu Wildlife Sanctuary, state of Karnataka, the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh, and other parts of Andhra Pradesh, such as the Nellore district.
The rusty-spotted cat was also reported from the island Sriharikota in the Nellore District where it was sighted in a mixed forest of eucalyptus and natural forest. According to the tribal Yanadis, the rusty-spotted cat is common there and stays in the forest and does not venture into the villages or prey on poultry.
Sources: (Anwar, Kumar, & Vattakavan, 2010; Athreya, 2010; Behera & Borah, 2010; Cat Specialist Group; Gavali, Lakhmapurkar, & Vyas, 2008; Kumara & Singh, 2005, 2007; Manakadan & Sivakumar, 2005; Miles, 2013; Patel, 2010; Pillay, 2008; Vyas, Lakhmapurkar, & Gavali, 2007)
Image: Alma Leaper, Lead Photographer – The Big Cat Sanctuary