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World’s first fishing cat census done in Chilika

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    14th Jun, 2022

Context

The Chilika Development Authority (CDA) recently informed that there are 176 fishing cats in Odisha’s Chilika Lake.

About

About the census:

  • The Census was conducted in Collaboration with The Fishing Cat Project (TFCP).
  • This is the world’s first population estimation of the fishing cat, which has been conducted outside the protected area network.
  • Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture (SECR) method was used to analyze the data.
  • The census by The Fishing Cat project was conducted in two phases.
  • In 2021, for the first phase, surveyors focused on the 115 sq. km marshland in the north and north eastern section of Chilika Lake.
  • The second phase of the fishing cat survey conducted in 2022 on the Parikud Side along the coastal part.

About the Fishing Cat:

  • The fishing cat is a globally threatened species found in marshlands, mangroves, flooded forests and other wetlands.
  • They are found in 10 Asian countries but have remained untraced in Vietnam and Java for more than a decade.
  • Wetlands are the favorite habitats of the fishing cat.
  • In India, fishing cats are mainly found in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, on the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river valleys and in the Western Ghats.
  • West Bengal declared the fishing cat to be its state animal in 2012.
  • Authorities in Chilika also named the cat as the lake's ambassador in 2020.
  • Protection Status:
  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable. Despite multiple threats, the Fishing Cat was recently down listed to “Vulnerable” from “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List species assessment.
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • The fishing cat is nocturnal and apart from fish also preys on frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, and scavenges on carcasses of larger animals.

Fishing Cat range Map:


Importance:

  • The fishing cat, a Schedule I species according to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, generally indicates the health of wetland and coastal ecosystems, which are considered as one of the major safeguards against climate change.
  • Fishing cats are the apex predator in coastal areas.
  • If they survive, it means the area is climate-resistant.
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