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Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 162512174

Enhancing the conservation of the endangered fishing cat through community outreach and empowerment in the Eastern Ghats of South India.

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 162512174) - Fishing Cat - Awarded $10,000 on May 24, 2016

The East Coastal Plain of South India is home to sizeable populations of Fishing Cats as it harbors vast tracts of mangrove forests at the estuaries of the River Godavari and River Krishna. Over the last two years, there have been sporadic incidents of fishing cat road kills and sightings by local people in the local newspapers from other parts of South India. Despite recent records of fishing cats here, no detailed surveys on the occurrence, distribution, ecology and conservation status of fishing cats have been carried out. Fishing cats are categorized as a globally endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since the year 2008. We observed that direct threats such as drastic degradation and conversion of wetlands for aquaculture, deforestation, poaching for meat, road killings, cattle grazing and movement in their prime habitats, incidental captures in traps and snares, lack of awareness among locals have likely resulted in their population decline. Most of the local communities rely on fishing and farming as a major occupation for their sustenance. However, the root cause of the perceived threats to fishing cats from humans in this area is largely unclear and requires a deeper understanding of underlying human behaviors / specific actions that are contributing to these problems. In order to understand and address the immediate threats to the species, we outlined the following objectives. 1. Train local people (citizen scientists) and front-line wildlife staff to monitor fishing cats and their threats by using in-field tracking and camera trapping, and therefore, transforming them as citizen scientists to continue the activity of data collection. 2.Identify various human-induced threats to fishing cats in areas with high conflict. 3.Devise and implement appropriate site-specific actions/conservation measures to address the direct threats from human-induced activities. 4.Promote awareness on fishing cat conservation and significance of wetlands to local youth, children, and villagers in and around fishing cat habitats. 5. Generate GIS-based habitat maps for fishing cats to show the status of current habitat and possible future habitats in south India to help the policy makers take informed decisions to minimize the impacts of developmental activities.

Project documents