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Biodiversity & Environment

Fishing Cats

  • 25 Jun 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

The Odisha Government has started a two-year conservation project for Fishing Cats in Bhitarkanika National Park.

  • Like several other rare species, little is known about fishing cats in the wild.

Key Points

  • Scientific Name: Prionailurus viverrinus.
  • Description:
    • It is twice the size of a house cat.
    • The fishing cat is nocturnal (active at night) and apart from fish also preys on frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, and scavenges on carcasses of larger animals.
    • The species breed all year round.
    • They spend most of their lives in areas of dense vegetation close to water bodies and are excellent swimmers.
  • Habitat: 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.
  • Threats:
    • Habitat Destruction: A major threat for fishing cats is the destruction of wetlands, their preferred habitat.
    • Shrimp Farming: Shrimp farming is another growing threat to mangrove habitats of the Fishing Cat.
    • Hunting: This unique cat also faces threats from hunting for meat and skin.
    • Ritual Practices: Tribal hunters indulge in ritual hunting practices throughout the year.
    • Poaching: It is also occasionally poached for its skin.
    • Poisoning: Indiscriminate trapping, snaring and poisoning.
  • Protection Status:
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • The Fishing Cat Project, launched in 2010 started raising awareness about the Cat in West Bengal.
    • In 2012, the West Bengal government officially declared the Fishing Cat as the State Animal and the Calcutta Zoo has two big enclosures dedicated to them.
    • In Odisha, many NGOs and wildlife conservation Societies are involved in Fishing Cat research and conservation work.

Source: DTE

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