Fishing: The battle to save one of the world’s deadliest wild cats India

F.Or for more than a decade, wildlife biologist Tiyasa Adhiya has spent many days in the wetlands and mangroves of the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha, rarely looking for wild cat symbols. Have been (Life: Violence).

Fishing cats have interesting animals. He said they have lived side by side with humans for centuries in river deltas and flood plains. Ancient cultures such as the Khmer Empire offer evidence of fishing cats. As co-founder of the world’s longest-running fishing cat research and conservation project, Kolkata-based Adhya is dedicated to the endangered Fried, one of the less educated and perceived wild cats.

“When we started our work in 2010, both we and the local community knew very little about these cats,” says Adhia. Fishing Cat Project (TFCP). Today, the species is somewhat better understood and can be admired, although it still receives significantly less attention from its larger, more attractive cousins.

A The study of little cats Found in November “In the Indian subcontinent, many small, rare and attractive cats do not get as much attention as big cats. However, the need to protect them is like putting pressure on them. The university study found only 6-11% in areas where three unusual cat species, including fishing cats, live.

Pugmarks from a fishing cat on the shores of Lake Chelika in Odisha, India.
Pugmarks from a fishing cat on the shores of Lake Chelika in Odisha, India. Photographer: Pratha Day

A muscular, medium-sized cat, which is twice the size of a housewife, the fishing cat has adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle. It hunts from the water’s edge, either pulling the fish with its claws or diving into shallow water.

Adhiya says, “The fishing cat has become the top hunter in its habitat.” It has half the retreating claws that help the fish to move, while partially attached to it. The feet enable it to gain a strong grip in the muddy area. It also has a waterproof coat, a tails like a captain and other adjustable ones that help you swim easily.

In 2020, it was formed by scientists, researchers and conservationists from around the world. Fishing Cat Protection Alliance. February is declared the month of non-profit Fishing Cat February Raising awareness about mammals and supporting conservation efforts.

Currently, there is no national or global population but the fishing cat has been named Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature It is endangered as its numbers dwindle due to various threats.

In India, the fishing cat is listed Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 And it has the same level of legal protection as lions, elephants and other endangered species. However, the cat is out of more than 90 protected areas and negative interactions are inevitable in human-influenced scenes.

The Aadhaar project focuses on the conservation of fishing cats in the wetlands of West Bengal and Odisha along the east coast of India and in mangroves, which is an important part of the breeding range in the country. In West Bengal, it is known as cat Fish (Bengali for fish lion)

To raise awareness of the ridiculous, TFCP has launched several protection projects in the local community. “In 2006, when the fishing cat was declared the state animal of West Bengal, we worked to create a sense of pride and ownership among the people,” says Adhiya.

Tiyasa Adhia is a biologist and cat fisherman at Lake Chelika in West Bengal.
Tyasa Adhia, a biologist and cat fisherman, is in the swamps of West Bengal. Photo: Courtesy of Thirty-Five / Fishing Cat Project

In 2017, as part of a program called Getting to Know Your Neighbors, camera traps were installed in the backyards of village houses in areas where fishing cats were often known. Villagers were shown camera footage and taught how to identify individual cats based on physical markings as they entered their homes. They were encouraged to name the cat, guiding the villagers, especially the children, to establish a relationship with their visitors. Once the kids are excited about safety, it’s easy to get the whole family involved. Today, villagers are the eyes and ears of our conservation work, “he said. Adhya says.

Barjo Behera, a fisherman from Soran village on the shores of Lake Chelika in Orissa, helped install four camera networks in his neighborhood in 2017. Now I have seen many people. I have named my favorite fishing cat Raja [king],” they say.

A camera trap was set up in an area of ​​Chelika that is often known as fishing cats.
A camera trap was set up in an area of ​​Chelika that is often known as fishing cats. Photographer: Pratha Day

Despite their preference for fish, fishing cats have a different diet. The use of mollusks, crabs, frogs, snakes and birds has been recorded. They also eat chickens and little goats from people’s yards.

TFCP supports community to reduce number of retaliatory attacks against cats running as a result of cattle shortage Goat Bank Plan in Howrah District, West Bengal. It was started in 2017 on the advice of local NGO Sarda Prasad Teretha Janklian Samiti (SPTJS). Sixty-eight families were given a goat for each pregnant girl, with the agreement that one child from the litter would be given to the goat’s side.

On average, the community loses five to six goats a year for fishing cats. When an incident is recorded, the affected family finds an alternative animal from the goat’s shore, a project managed by the villagers themselves. “For the villagers, the alternative goat is not the same cute animal they have just lost. But at least for now, they are not so worried,” says Joydab Pardhan, president of SPTJS.

The biggest threat to the fishing cat, however, is the loss of habitat. “In the last two decades, more than 50 per cent of the Ganges floods have been lost to urban areas, infrastructure projects, industries and aquaculture,” says Adhia.

The situation is not much different in nine other countries in South and Southeast Asia, where records show the presence of a fishing cat. These nations are the signatures of the Lord Ramsar Convention in wet areas, But there is still the danger of terrible housing.

Adhiya says: “Gatelands are highly productive and rich ecosystems capable of supporting a variety of life forms. We are working actively with government agencies, forest officials and policy makers to ensure that It is possible to protect them.

“Wet areas have more than just reservoirs. They also act as nutrients and carbon dioxide needed to fight climate change.

A picture of a fishing cat in Chelika, Orissa. This image was captured on camera.
A picture of a fishing cat in Chelika, Orissa. This image was captured on camera. Photo courtesy of the Fishing Cat Project

Last October, Chelika, the world’s second-largest coastline, made the fishing cat its ambassador. Susanta Nanda, chief executive of the Chelika Development Authority (CDA), said: “When we work to save a predator in a habitat, in this case the fishing cat, we are the whole ecological. Protect the system. ”

In collaboration with the TFCP and community volunteers, the CDA will soon install 100 camera traps across the lake to establish the number of fishing cats and improve the safety of this unknown animal.

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