IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Fishing cat to be the ambassador of Chilika Lake

10th October, 2020 Environment

Context: The fishing cat will be the ambassador of Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and India’s oldest Ramsar Site, which is being dubbed as an important step towards conservation of the vulnerable species.

Fishing cat

  • The fishing cat is the only wild cat species in India that is a wetland specialist, and it’s found all around Chilika.
  • Fishing cats are mostly found in marshlands fringing the north and north-eastern sections of the lake, according to a recently concluded study conducted by the Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) and the Indian wing of Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance (FCCA) in collaboration with the Chilika Development Authority (CDA).
  • The fishing cat is a Schedule I species and deserves conservation measures of the highest order in India, as with the tiger and elephant.
  • “Unfortunately, marshland and mangrove ecosystems, which are fishing cat habitat, are on decline.
  • “Projecting the fishing cat as the face of the marshlands will raise the profile of the fishing cat and marshland ecosystems globally and nationally, which are otherwise neglected ecosystems.

Chilika lake

  • Chilika’s marshes receive the maximum freshwater flow from the tributaries of Mahanadi and seasonal rivulets.
  • It has high fish abundance. Fish are the lifeline of Chilika, sustaining 2 lakh fishermen families and globally threatened piscivorous mammals like fishing cats, smooth-coated otters and Eurasian otters.
  • “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,”.

Efforts of conservation:

  • The CDA plans to manage the marshes with a socio-ecological approach involving local stakeholders and ecologists.
  • Estimation of fishing cat population will be done through camera traps in the near future.
  • The CDA has also decided to have a rescue and rehabilitation centre for birds, Irrawaddy dolphins, fishing cat and otters with the help of the Wildlife Trust of India inside the Chilika lagoon.
  • This centre will cater to a long-standing need for rescue and rehabilitation of migratory birds and other flagship species of the lagoon.