The Endangered Fishing Cat, Howrah, West Bengal

by Subhajit Maity and Tiasa Adhya
Subhajit Maity

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The Fishing Cat is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List, and is a unique example of the great abilities and diversity of the felid family.

The Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List, and is a unique example of the great abilities and diversities of the felid family. Recent studies have shown that they are strongly linked to marshlands. Unfortunately, marshlands are considered to be “wastelands” under Indian land-use policies and are thus subjected to degradation and conversion, especially outside protected areas.

In West Bengal alone, where this image was taken, there has been a 44% decline in marshlands in the last 15 years. The fishing cat is the State Animal of West Bengal. However, the common man in the state is unaware of this fact and there is considerable apathy towards the cat amongst policy makers. As marshlands continue to decline, the fishing cat is often seen to come out and take poultry (though there are no real estimates) and are often killed in retaliation. We documented 27 killings of the cats within 18 months (poaching, roadkill and retaliatory killing).

As a part of ongoing efforts to conserve the cat in the wetlands of West Bengal, Tiasa Adhya and team are trying to raise funds to make a short documentary film on the life, plight and plausible solutions to let the fishing cat survive alongside humans in suburban landscapes. Click here to find out more.

About the author

Subhajit Maity and Tiasa Adhya
Subhajit is a local naturalist and fishing cat enthusiast based in Howrah. Tiasa is a postgraduate student in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, WCS-India Program, National Centre for Biological Sciences, and is a member of the International Fishing Cat Working Group (www.fishing-cat.wild-cat.org).


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