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First evidence of fishing cat in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India

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Abstract

The fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus is a medium-sized felid found in south Asia. A large degree of habitat destruction and anthropogenic intervention has caused a severe decline in the fishing cat population including local extinctions of the species in its historical range. A recent camera-trapping survey in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve RTR revealed the presence of a fishing cat in a dry deciduous forest area. This is the first photographic record of a fishing cat in RTR.
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... Therefore, it is very much essential to reassess the present status across its reported distribution range. In India, presence of fishing cat was documented from protected areas (Haque and Vijayan 1993;Sadhu and Reddy 2013;Prerna et al. 2016;Sathiyaselvam and Satyanarayana 2016;Talegaonkar et al. 2018). Recently few scientific studies in this country have also reported the presence of fishing cats from coastal areas and mangroves situated outside protected areas (Kolipaka 2006;Janardhanan et al. 2014;Malla and Sivakumar 2014;Naidu et al. 2015;Paleiet al. 2018;Malla et al. 2018). ...
... Camera traps are also widely being used in the surveys of fishing cats (e.g. Lynam et al. 2013;Sadhu and Reddy 2013;Islam et al. 2015;Thaung et al. 2018;Kolipaka et al. 2019;Poudel et al. 2019;Chakraborty et al. 2020). Keeping these in view, surveys are being carried out across the state of West Bengal, India in the wetland habitats situated outside protected areas. ...
Article
Prionailurus viverrinus, a wetland-dependent lesser cat with globally declining population, is suffering from increasing destruction/conversion of wetlands for various anthropogenic use, poaching, retaliatory killing etc. In India, they prefer to thrive in dense emergent vegetation adjoining different wetlands along the east coast and Gangetic plains. However, surveys determining their distribution range were carried out long ago and, due to various threats they have been decimated from many areas where they used to thrive earlier. This demands for a reassessment of their present status across its reported distribution range. Here we report the presence of fishing cats (through camera trap evidence) for the first time from a human-dominated wetland habitat of Murshidabad district, West Bengal, India. Out of all camera-trap images in the present study (N = 39), majority are of fishing cats Prionailurus viverrinus (25 pictures, 64.10%) followed by golden jackal Canis aureus (12 pictures, 30.76%), and jungle cat Felis chaus (two pictures, 5.12%). None of these wild fauna were recorded during day time. Fishing cats and golden jackals were mostly recorded between 21:01–3:00 h and 18:00–21:00 h respectively. Two images of jungle cats were also captured, one each during 21:01–00:00 h and 00:01–3:00 h. Similar studies in other wetlands within the distributional range of fishing cats will collectively validate their present distribution, which might be useful for in-situ conservation of this elusive vulnerable species. The article is available as 'Online First': http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12595-020-00332-8
... The species, which was declared the 'state animal' of West Bengal, India (Mallick 2017), is currently considered 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2016), listed under Appendix 2 of CITES (Cutter 2009), included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act (Anonymous 1972). In India, fishing cat presence has been reported from some protected areas (Haque and Vijayan 1993;Sadhu and Reddy 2013;Prerna et al. 2016;Talegaonkar et al. 2018), as well as from coastal areas (Kolipaka 2006;Janardhanan et al. 2014;Naidu et al. 2015), mangroves (Malla and Sivakumar 2014;Malla et al. 2018) and other habitats (Kantimahanti 2016;Palei et al. 2018) located outside protected areas. These elusive cats have been reported in the Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuary (Das et al. 2017) and in humandominated areas of the Howrah and Hooghly districts (Adhya 2011(Adhya , 2016Kolipaka et al. 2019) of West Bengal. ...
... In 2018, we recorded fishing cats with camera traps set in rural habitats comprising a riverbank, mudflats and dense emergent vegetation, bamboo groves, crop fields and other rural vegetation, intermittent with village ponds and rural settlements. Large-scale habitat destruction and anthropogenic interventions have already been reported to cause decline and even local extinction of fishing cat in many areas of its previous distribution range (Karanth 1986;Kumara and Singh 2007;Sadhu and Reddy 2013;Janardhanan et al. 2014). Prime fishing cat habitats in human-dominated areas usually comprise wetlands with emergent vegetation, often privately owned. ...
Article
The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is a medium-sized felid, which uses various habitats including areas adjoining wetlands. This species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List 2016, Appendix 2 of CITES and under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. In spite of being mired with several threats, studies on fishing cats outside protected areas are scarce in West Bengal, and their confirmed presence has so far been reported only from the Howrah and Hooghly districts. This is the first published account of the presence of fishing cats in human-dominated landscapes of East Medinipur (West Bengal, India) through camera-trap evidence. We have observed that habitat alterations and disturbances associated with the construction of a brick kiln have possibly led to the displacement of fishing cats and other associated wildlife species from the study area. Similar surveys in yet unexplored areas of fishing cat distribution range are needed to identify remaining populations, threats to their survival and to initiate appropriate conservation initiatives. Our findings indicate that current anthropocentric land-use policies need to be reviewed to reduce anthropogenic disturbances and destruction of habitats sustaining fishing cats and other wildlife in human-dominated landscapes.
... Outside the protected areas, it has been reported from several districts of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Andhra Pradesh (Kolipaka 2006, Kumara & Singh 2007, Naidu et al. 2015, Chakraborty et al. 2020. Within the Terai arc landscape TAL, the fish-ing cat has been reported in various protected areas such as Chitwan NP, Bardia NP, Shuklaphanta NP, Parsa and Koshi Tappu NP in Nepal (Mishra et al. 2018;Yadav et al. 2020) and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Katarniaghat WLS and Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India ( Fig. 1; Sadhu & Reddy 2013, Mukherjee et al. 2016. Prerna et al. 2016, Yadav et al. 2020). ...
... Outside the protected areas, it has been reported from several districts of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Andhra Pradesh (Kolipaka 2006, Kumara & Singh 2007, Naidu et al. 2015, Chakraborty et al. 2020. Within the Terai arc landscape TAL, the fish-ing cat has been reported in various protected areas such as Chitwan NP, Bardia NP, Shuklaphanta NP, Parsa and Koshi Tappu NP in Nepal (Mishra et al. 2018;Yadav et al. 2020) and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Katarniaghat WLS and Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India ( Fig. 1; Sadhu & Reddy 2013, Mukherjee et al. 2016. Prerna et al. 2016, Yadav et al. 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents the first ever camera trap record of fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus in Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary and second record from Uttarakhand state of India. This record will help filling a distributional gap of the fishing cat in the Terai Arc. Systematic intensive camera trapping exercises are required to provide crucial information on the distribution of the species and also establish baseline data.
... coastal region of India (Palei 2018), and also in mangrove areas (Malla & Sivakumar 2014, Das et al. 2017. Presence of fishing cat was also recorded from several protected areas of north-central India, such as Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (Sadhu & Reddy 2013) and Keoladeo National Park (Haque & Vijayan 1993). The record from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve (Talegaonkar et al. 2018) was very interesting as there was no confirmed earlier record of the occurrence of fishing cat from the Vindhyan mountain range of Madhya Pradesh. ...
Article
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We report the first ever photographic evidence of fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus from Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, central India. The animal was photocaptured during camera trap sampling as a part of the ongoing study on the ecology of reintroduced tiger and co-predators. This new record triggers the conservation importance of small felids in protected areas
... According to the latest knowledge, India and Sri Lanka are the strongholds of the Fishing Cat (Janardhanan et al. 2014). In India, the Fishing Cat is primarily distributed along the eastern coast covering parts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar, in the north east (Arunachal Pradesh and Assam), in the Himalayan foothills (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh), and Rajasthan (Nowell and Jackson 1996;Sunquist and Sunquist 2002;Mukherjee et al. 2012Mukherjee et al. , 2016Sadhu and Reddy 2013;Menon 2014). Its occurrence along the western coast and the Western Ghats was questionable (Nowell and Jackson 1996;Sunquist and Sunquist2002) and a recent study (Janardhanan et al. 2014) failed to find any evidence of the Fishing Cat occurrence in the coastal areas of Kerala. ...
Article
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The Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus is amongst the most vulnerable and least studied wild cats across its range. Although its occurrence in Odisha, eastern India was reported c. 100 years ago, its current distribution, threats and conservation challenges are still poorly known. A biodiversity inventory performed in multiple parts of Odisha between 2008 and 2018 found the Fishing Cat in 20 new localities. The Fishing Cat distribution is confined to the coastal zone, from mangrove to swamps surrounded by rice fields, aquaculture farms and human habitations up to about 50 m above sea level. Road kill is an immediate threat but can be overcome by installing underpasses and signage on major roads. Wells in Fishing Cat habitats should be fitted with safety walls to avoid trapping. Community awareness of this species' conservation is vital, as most of its habitats fall outside protected areas and are near human habitation. Targeted study of its population status, ecology and threats throughout known and potential localities is necessary to formulate a Fishing Cat conservation plan for Odisha.
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A critical review on the article published in the Auguts 2020 issue of JoTT, "“A checklist of mammals with historical records from Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya landscape, India” is presented.
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We report the high elevation record of a fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus from Odisha, eastern India, where most occurrences have recorded below 50 m. A fishing cat was rescued from Ghumsur South Forest Division, Odisha, at an elevation of 160 m in January 2020. This record indicates that the species might be more widely distributed in the state than previously thought.
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The Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus is a medium sized cat that is widely but patchily distributed across Asia and strongly associated with wetlands. It is among the 15 felid species that inhabit India and like other smaller cat species it is very poorly understood. Apart from a few recent surveys in specific locations, no concerted effort has been made to assess its current distribution and threats to its persistence within India. In this study we collected scats from natural habitats, through six states including five protected areas throughout India and performed informal interviews with locals to get a better overview of the current distribution and threats for Fishing Cats in India. Of the 114 scats used for molecular analysis, 37% were assigned to felids, including 19 Fishing Cats. We confirmed that Fishing Cat populations persisted in all locations where they were recorded before, including Keoladeo Ghana, from where it was reported in recent years that fishing cats are possibly extinct. Most populations face imminent threats with the worst being in the Howrah District of West Bengal where 27 dead individuals were traced during the study period of only one year. The major threats across populations include ecologically unbalanced land policies and land uses, direct persecution due to human-Fishing Cat conflicts as well as ritual hunts. To address these threats we recommend a stronger dialogue among scientists, policy makers, administrators, locals and other stake holders such as commercial fish and prawn cultivators. Further awareness campaigns for stakeholders, and surveys for monitoring fishing cat populations, studying their ecology and estimating economic losses to local people due to the Fishing Cat predation on livestock and poultry, is needed in order to design effective conservation strategies.
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We assessed the distribution and relative abundance of mammals in two rainforest areas, Brahmagiri-Makut and Sirsi-Honnavara, of the Western Ghats, southern India, from November 2001 to April 2002. Both direct (daytime and night-time wildlife sightings through ‘recky’ walks) and indirect (wildlife signs and local information) methods were employed. A total of 34–35 species, of which we recorded 31–32, are known from the two areas; 14 are in one of the IUCN Red List threatened categories and six are endemic to India. Ecological factors account for the distribution and relative abundance of only three species (Nilgiri langur Semnopithecus johnii, lion-tailed macaque Macaca silenus and Asiatic elephant Elephas maximus). Ten other large species of mammals were more common in Sirsi-Honnavara than in Brahmagiri-Makut, whereas most of nine smaller species were generally more common in Brahmagiri-Makut. These differences can be attributed to different hunting practices rather than to ecological or biogeographical factors. In Brahmagiri-Makut the mainly daytime hunting using guns has the greatest impact on large diurnal mammals, whereas in Sirsi-Honnavara the mostly night-time hunting with traps, and avoidance of primates, has a greater effect on small nocturnal mammals. Brahmagiri-Makut is one of the few areas in the Western Ghats where all of the primate species of southern India can still be found, but the area does not receive any official protection. In Sirsi-Honnavara encroachment of agriculture is a regular practice, and the remaining forests exist only as a network of narrow strips.
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An assessment of carnivore species richness and food habits was carried out in a 100 km2 area of dry tropical forest in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. Twenty-one carnivore species of five families were found to be feeding on at least 34 mammal species, as well as birds, lizards, snakes, crabs, fish, insects, and fruits. Forty-four percent of the prey identified in faeces of larger carnivores, primarily leopards, consisted of barking deer, Muntiacus muntjak. Sambar deer, macaques, wild boar, porcupine, and hog badger were important secondary prey items. In faeces from small carnivores (< 10kg), murid rodents accounted for 33% of identified food items. The two most frequently encountered mammalian prey species were the yellow rajah rat, Maxomys surifer, and the bay bamboo rat, Cannomys badius. Non-mammal prey accounted for 21.3%, and fruit seeds for 12.4%, of all food items found in small carnivore faeces.
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