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Chilika’s authority adopts Fishing Cat as its new ambassador

Adoption will raise profile of marshland ecosystems which are otherwise neglected

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 09.10.20, 04:38 AM
The Fishing Cat

The Fishing Cat Sourced by the Telegraph

Chilika, the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and India’s oldest Ramsar site, on Thursday adopted Fishing Cat as its ambassador.

The decision was taken on the concluding day of the wildlife week celebration that began on October 2.


A Ramsar site is a designated wetland of international importance.

Chief executive officer of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Sushant Nanda told The Telegraph: “Fishing Cat is a Schedule-I species and deserves the best possible conservation measures in India like the tiger and the elephant. Unfortunately, marshland and mangrove ecosystems, which are the known habitat of Fishing Cat, are in a declining state. CDA will be according the highest priority to conserving their habitat and population.”

The globally endangered felid was found to be present all around Chilika but the marshlands fringing its north and northeastern sections was where most evidence of its occurrence was found, according to a recent study. The study was conducted by the Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) and the Indian wing of Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance (FCCA), a global organisation comprising experts working on the elusive but rare feline in all range countries in collaboration with the CDA which has been monitoring the well-being of the Ramsar site.

Nanda said: “The future plans of this collaborative venture between CDA and TFCP include regularising protocols to estimate Fishing Cat populations in Chilika and to create a Fishing Cat conservation network by involving local stakeholders, college students, researchers, non-government and government organisations.”

“Estimation of Fishing Cat population will be done through camera trap in near future collaboratively by CDA, Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) and the Indian wing of Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance (FCCA). The results are expected in the first part of 2021 and will be the first of its kind in estimating the apex predator of the coastal ecosystem,” an official said.

Tiasa Adhya, co-founder of The Fishing Cat Project said: “Projecting Fishing Cat as the face of marshlands will raise the profile of Fishing Cat and marshland ecosystems globally and nationally which are otherwise neglected ecosystems. Locally, it will nurture their value among multiple stakeholders in Chilika.”

These marshes receive the maximum freshwater flow from the tributaries of Mahanadi and seasonal rivulets. Analysis of long-term data collected by the CDA shows that this area also has high fish abundance. This is significant given that fish is the lifeline of Chilika sustaining two lakh fishermen families and globally threatened piscivorous mammals like Fishing Cat, Smooth-coated Otter and Eurasian Otter.

“Management interventions are required to prolong the life of this marshland so that it can continue to provide for the globally endangered Fishing Cat, the hundreds of precious birdlife that arrive every winter here and to the indigenous fishing community,” said Partha Dey, co-founder, TFCP .

“We will also to set up a rescue and rehabilitation centre for birds, Irrawaddy dolphins, fishing cat and otters with the help of WTI (Wildlife Trust of India) inside the Chilika lagoon. This centre will cater to a long-standing need for rescue and rehabilitation of the migratory birds and other flagship species of the lagoon,” officials said.

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