World’s first fishing cat census done in Chilika

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World’s first fishing cat census done in Chilika

  • The Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, has 176 fishing cats, according to a census done by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) in collaboration with the Fishing Cat Project (TFCP).
  • This is the world’s first population estimation of the fishing cat done outside the protected area network.

‘Participatory spirit’

  • It was truly participatory in spirit since local fishermen and villagers of Chilika were the primary participants in this exercise.
  • Chilika Wildlife Division staff actively facilitated and participated in the estimation.
  • Such a participatory effort involving multiple stakeholders for studying this elusive and threatened species sets a wonderful precedent.
  • The globally threatened cats are found in wetlands in major South and Southeast Asian river basins starting from the Indus in Pakistan till the Mekong in Vietnam and in Sri Lanka and Java.
  • They are found in 10 Asian countries but have stayed undetected in Vietnam and Java since the last decade or so.
  • The status of many wetland species remains understudied and highly threatened.
  • Tracking specialist species such as the fishing cat gives us an indication of what might be happening to these ecosystems, which are safeguards against climate change and droughts.

Prelims Takeaway

  • Fishing Cat Project (TFCP)
  • Fishing cat and its habitat