Today, the first of our several Fishing Cat Protection Committees gained legal government recognition.
We just gave local youth in our village a mere CANON IXUS non-slr camera to document the biodiversity of the area. We did not expect them to become such night owls to document the Fishing Cat that comes and eats fish from their ponds right under their noses. But they did, after remaining awake for seven nights at a stretch and cooperating with each other to take turns. As a picture and a video, the quality might not be high profile. But I wanted to share this with all of you because it is so nice to see them observe the cat and do it responsibly enough.......listen to them talking quietly so that they do not agitate the cat while documenting. The women cooperated, older people gave them advice, and they finally got what they were waiting for. They even named it Ghontu — the cat of their locality.
Sagar Dahal received a grant from the Chicago Zoological Society Chicago Board of Trade Endangered Species Fund for his a survey around the Halkhoriya lake in Bara District, Nepal. CONGRATULATIONS, Sagar!!
The Times of India published: Fishing cats may be radio-collared in Bengal.
The Phnom Penh Post published: Fishing cat centre stage in Nepal.
The Sunday Times Sri Lanka published: Asia’s small wild cat needs protection.
Read more at The Better India ...
... and in this article by Tiasa and Partha : Cat in the net. Down To Earth, September 2015.
Photo by courtesy of Partha Dey.
The Wildlife Conservation Network published this article: New Protections for Fishing Cats in India
Tiasa and Neville produced this video. Tiasa wrote:
This footage from Port Lympne Zoo is aired across all cable channels in Howrah, West Bengal, in between film intervals to explain the importance of conserving Fishing Cats, the State animal of West Bengal. The Wildlife Conservation Trust India kindly financed the production of this video.
Thanura Hasantha posted this video of a Fishing Cat hit by a vehicle in Sri Lanka:
Ashan Thudugala sent the photo below and wrote:
I conducted another two-day workshop for Open University students in Girithale Wildlife Research and Training Center on 19 and 20 September with support by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the university's Grant Commission. We educated students about wild cat species in Sri Lanka, threats they face and how students can contribute in their conservation. Moreover, camera trapping, home range monitoring, animal tranquilizing and treating lessons were given by my team and staff of the wildlife veterinary team.
Anya Ratnayaka wrote:
Last week while doing my field survey, I bumped into one of my collared cats, chilling like a total villain on a roof! He had been watching me for a good 15 minutes before we noticed he was there! Sneaky bugger.
See more details and a video at Anya's website.
Fauna & Flora International posted these videos, the first ones of a Fishing Cat in Cambodia:
Videos by courtesy of Fauna & Flora International and the Royal University of Phnom Penh. For more details read: Found! Fishing cat in coastal Cambodia
The Hindustan Times (Kolkata) published this article:
Panchayat joins bid to save Fishing Cats : Howrah Zilla Parishad would support campaign to raise general awareness on the endangered animal
The Howrah Zilla Parishad has teamed up with an army of conservationists to save the Fishing Cat, the state animal of Bengal now considered an endangered species.
The Zilla Parishad has assured help to the conservationists, who had proposed to use the three-tier panchayat administration to raise public awareness on the endangered animal.
Though the numbers have been dwindling elsewhere in the state, Howrah is still home to a sizeable contingent of Fishing Cats.
"This is arguably the first time that all three tiers of the panchayat system will be used to save an endangered animal. Plans are afoot to form a Baghrol Bachao Committee (Save Fishing Cat Committee) in every village (in the Howrah Zilla Parishad area) to raise public awareness on the animal that now faces extinction," Manas Basu, a top forest and land official of Howrah Zilla Parishad, told HT.
How to find a Fishing Cat in Cambodia
Cambodia's Centre for Biodiversity Conservation team is trying to uncover the mystery of the evasive, Endangered Fishing Cat, which is under threat from snaring and trapping and habitat destruction. So are there Fishing Cats left in Cambodia? If so, how many and where do they live?
Photo of Ret Thaung and Thorn Kam by courtesy of Vanessa Herranz Muñoz.
In Sri Lanka's Kandy district, Ashan Thudugala and his team placed seven signboards along a road where he had previously recorded several Fishing Cat road kills. People are asked to drive carefully as Fishing Cats may cross the road.
Ashan shows more of his photos about the making and putting up of the signboards in his flickr album.
His project titled "Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus): Monitoring home range and implementing conservation actions in the Gannoruwa forest" is supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
Five poachers were arrested and are being taken to court today. We also have top forest officials, especially the Chief Wildlife Warden, promising to conduct regular campaigns in Howrah so that this is never repeated.
A big thanks to all of you! You have shown that people's power works. Keep protesting and changing the world!
For more details read: Five Fishing Cat poachers arrested
Today morning the five culprits including the main accused surrendered to the Forest Department. We are now pushing forward for our second step, i.e. the formation of village level Fishing Cat Protection Committees to prevent such incidences in the future. Special thanks to all international supporters. The Fishing Cats in Howrah shall be grateful for your support!
We have 4000+ petitioners now and got the press interested. Here is what the Times of India reported, the most popular newspaper in West Bengal: Poachers kill Fishing Cats, pose for camera. Our petition worked, we have word from the Forest Department:
The Chief Wildlife Warden Azam Zaidi asked the concerned Conservator of Forests (CF) and District Forest Officer (DFO) to initiate a probe. They hope to arrest the culprits soon.
The CF Nilanjan Mullick confirmed a First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged, and announced to undertake an awareness drive.
On 5 June, local people in Howrah, West Bengal, killed five Fishing Cats for meat and illegal trading of skins. Tiasa Adhya initiated a petition to the
Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal Forest Department: Immediate Action Requested to Stop Fishing Cat Killings in Howrah
Please sign her petition to urge the West Bengal Forest Department to take Fishing Cat killings in Howrah seriously, to punish culprits and form a Fishing Cat Protection Force in Howrah, a stronghold of Fishing Cat in India.
Tiasa Adhya sent this photo from a meeting with a Fishing Cat Protection Committee and wrote:
We have worked in this region for the past five years. It is located in Amta Block II, Howrah district, West Bengal. Here people cultivate reeds as an economic crop and thus provide habitat to the Fishing Cats without knowing it. They also keep poultry and black Bengal goats and have a general perception that Fishing Cats attack livestock. It is not that they abhor Fishing Cats but neither do they understand the international significance of the cats. They do not know it is their State Animal, nor that it is "Endangered" worldwide. To them it is a common animal sharing their landscape. In this project we will explain the local threats to Fishing Cat populations in Howrah and also explain the importance of this landscape and the local community's practices in Fishing Cat persistence. To do this, we will give more importance to visual media like street plays and films to drive home the message. We will also educate them about the role of Fishing Cats in a wetland ecosystem. The ultimate outcome of this project is to submit a proposal to the State Government through the locals to designate the area under three village panchayats covering 11 moujas and 16 villages as a Biodiversity Heritage Site under the Biodiversity Act 2002. Under this, there shall be no land-use change in the region other than what is volunteered for by the villagers, and there shall be a local Fishing Cat Protection Committee who will write a Management Plan for the region and shall see to it that no poaching takes place. Panchayats are the lowest administrative tier of the state. Under one panchayat there may be several moujas, and under one mouja there may be several villages. In our original project proposal, we had asked for funding for working in six villages. But now the number has increased to 16 villages!!! The area under these 16 villages is approximately 22 sq km.
We have simultaneously been doing a social science study to understand 1) the social, economic, political factors that might influence land-use in the future; and 2) whether our interventions are causing a significant change in perceptions of people towards Fishing Cats.
See also : Habitat loss biggest threat to state animal — The Times of India
Read all about the Status of Fishing Cat in Jagadishpur Reservoir and Ghodaghodi Lake and assessment of threat. by Sagar and colleagues.
The 1st Fishing Cat and Mangrove Conservation Workshop in Andhra Pradesh, India, takes place on 6-8 March. Participants are still welcome.
!! Congratulations, Tiasa, for finalizing your Master thesis : Habitat use and diet of two sympatric felids – the Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) and the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) – in a human-dominated landscape in suburban Kolkata !!
Sagar Dahal sent this photo and wrote:
For the first time, we recorded the presence of Fishing Cats outside a protected area in southern Nepal. Our camera trapping survey in the surroundings of the Jagdishpur Reservoir lasted from 31 October 2014 to 3 January 2015. During 317 camera trapping days, Fishing Cats were photographed in four locations.
The Jagdishpur Reservoir is located at an elevation of 197 m in the Kapilvastu District of the Lumbini Zone. Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The reservoir was constructed in the early 1970s for irrigating paddy fields. Today, it is a Ramsar site comprising about 225 ha together with surrounding wetlands. According to local people the reservoir is over-fished, and its banks are polluted.
In the map below, the markers point to the locations where the Fishing Cats passed by Sagar's camera traps.