Mumbai: Rare cat gets wildlife experts purring

Updated: Jan 12, 2020, 07:33 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Mumbai couple spots the leopard cat at Dajipur wildlife sanctuary and manages to shoot stills and videos

The leopard cat that was spotted by the couple. Pic/ Poonam Karve
The leopard cat that was spotted by the couple. Pic/ Poonam Karve

Despite complaints by tourists about not being able to spot rare animals at the Dajipur wildlife sanctuary, some managed to spot the elusive leopard cat. This has become a topic of discussion in wildlife circles and members of the fraternity demanded more focus on conserving this ecologically important forest. Dajipur and Radhanagri wildlife sanctuaries have been declared as natural world heritage sites by UNESCO. The sighting of this evasive cat is expected to boost tourism in the area.

Samrat Kerkar, president of the Bison Nature Club, said, "In the first week of January, Mumbai-based nature lovers Nirmal Kumar Kurve and Dr Poonam Kurve visited the Dajipur wildlife sanctuary. They were lucky to spot a leopard cat, which is rare. There have been sightings in the vicinity late in the evenings and during the night. But this might be the first time that tourists have managed to spot a leopard cat and document it. The sighting highlights how important the area is in terms of the conservation of wild animals." Over 35 species of mammals, 235 bird species and 121 species of butterflies are found in the Radhanagri and Dajipur wildlife sanctuaries. They are spread across 350 square kilometres in Kolhapur.

Kurve and his family spotted a leopard cat during an afternoon safari. They thought it was a leopard cub initially but they eventually realised that it was a leopard cat. Without wasting any time, Dr Kurve, an associate professor at the BN Bandodkar College of Science in Thane, clicked pictures and took a video of the cat. Experts have clarified that leopard cat sightings are rare because they are predominantly nocturnal and shy. They are affected by factors such as loss of habitat, poaching and pet trade. They prefer habitats like fields, forests and coffee plantations. They are predominantly found in the Western Ghats, in states such as Karnataka and Kerala. They are also found in countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the cat's current conservation status is of 'least concern' on the red list.

35
No of mammal species found in the sanctuaries

350
Area (in sqkm) that they are spread across

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