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Fishing cat may not be extirpated in Pakistan: a call to survey coastal mangroves

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Since the last assessment of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus by the IUCN Red List in 2010, it has been assumed that this species may have been extirpated from Pakistan. However, recently published articles, surveys, and an incident of a captive fishing cat in southern Pakistan indicate that some populations might still occur in the country. Immediate field surveys for the species are warranted, especially, based on occurrence elsewhere in its range, in mangroves southeast of Karachi. Should fishing cats be found there, global species records and national protection efforts will need enhancement.
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ISSN 1027-2992
CAT
news
N° 63 | Spring 2016
CATnews 63 Spring 2016
02
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CATnews 63 Sprig 2016
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short communication
FARAZ ZUBAIRI1* AND ASHWIN NAIDU2,3
Fishing cat may not be extir-
pated in Pakistan: a call to
survey coastal mangroves
Since the last assessment of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus by the IUCN
Red List in 2010, it has been assumed that this species may have been extirpated
from Pakistan. However, recently published articles, surveys, and an incident of
a captive fishing cat in southern Pakistan indicate that some populations might
still occur in the country. Immediate field surveys for the species are warranted,
especially, based on occurrence elsewhere in its range, in mangroves southeast
of Karachi. Should fishing cats be found there, global species records and national
protection efforts will need enhancement.
For about half a decade since the last as-
sessment of the fishing cat by the IUCN Red
List it has been announced that the species
may have been extirpated from Pakistan
(Mukherjee et al. 2010, Jutzeler et al. 2010).
The last published records of wild fishing cats
in Pakistan were in the 1960s and 1970s from
the rivers of the Indus river valley, lakes and
swamps (Roberts 1977), and then again in
2012 from Chotiari Reservoir in Sindh (Islam
et al. 2015). A few years prior to these re-
cords, an ‘escaped’ fishing cat was reported
from a residential area of coastal Karachi
(Mirza & Omar 2008). However, the reliability
of this record, and other such reports in the
news, is questionable since no photographs
were provided. Around the same time, feces
and tracks encountered during field-based
surveys in 2007/2008 were identified as
being from fishing cat (http://www.fishing-
cat.wild-cat.org/; notes on Pakistan). The
take of fishing cats by hunters and demand
for their capture is supported by their pre-
sence in the illegal wildlife trade market (F.
Zubairi, pers. obs.).
In February 2015, Faraz Zubairi (FZ), en-
gaged in the rescue and rehabilitation of
animals in Karachi, Pakistan, received infor-
mation of an anonymous person possessing
a certain ‘wild cat’, who claimed it was a
fishing cat, and requiring medical attention.
He obtained photographs and verified that
the cat was indeed a fishing cat (Fig. 1a).
He speculated that the cat was obtained
locally and possibly from within Pakistan,
but given the sensitivity of the situation
was unable to obtain further information
on where the person obtained this fishing
cat from. He later identified the cat to be
a female, and found that it apparently had
not left its 30x30x60 cm cage for, possibly,
over two months. It was unable to move
the lower half of its body, indicating severe
muscular atrophy, presumably due to the
insufficient space for it to move around in
the cage. Its paws were infected since it
had been constantly clawing and striking
the cage when it felt threatened. In March
2015, the fishing cat was rehabilitated at
the facility of a local trust with the use of
a custom-built enclosure, including a water
pond and a shelf (Fig. 1b).
Fishing cat is a protected species in Pakistan,
where it is listed as endangered (http://eol.
org/pages/1037335/details) and hunting
is prohibited. Considering the approximate
locations of these recent occurrences, and
fishing cat records in remaining mangrove
areas in other countries (e.g. Kolipaka 2006,
UNI 2007, EGREE 2013, McKerrow 2015,
Naidu et al. 2015), fishing cats might well be
persisting in Pakistan’s coastal mangroves.
This information beckons field-based sign
and wildlife camera surveys to determine fi-
shing cat occurrence in the remaining man-
grove areas in Pakistan. These surveys can
be initiated in the following locations with
5-20 km2 of surrounding mangroves:
- the Thatta area (Approximate locaction
24°41' N / 67°16' E),
- Marho Kotri Wildlife Sanctuary (24°29' N
/ 67°20' E),
- an unnamed mangrove area south of Kha-
ro Chan (23°54' N / 67°36' E), and
- remaining mangrove cover in the Keti Bun
der South Wildlife Sanctuary (24°02' N /
68°02' E).
Data from such surveys will inform conser-
vation interventions necessary for protec-
ting the fishing cat in Pakistan.
Fig. 1. a) fishing cat in a 30x30x60 cm cage, in which it had been held for months. b) The same fishing cat after rescue and rehabilita-
tion in private facility (Photos F. Zubairi).
ab
CATnews 63 Spring 2016
22
Zubairi & Naidu
Acknowledgments
We would like to thank Michael W. Dulaney of
the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for pro-
viding guidance and information on fishing cat
housing and care. We would also like to thank
the many supporters of Fishing Cat Conservancy
(FCC), which include Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical
Garden, Feline Conservation Federation, Univer-
sity of Arizona Wild Cat Research and Conserva-
tion Center, Project Survival’s Cat Haven, Safari
West, Idea Wild, Cedar Cove Feline Conserva-
tory, the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Con-
servation Fund, the Disney Conservation Fund,
the Wildlife Conservation Network, and many
individual donors. This support has helped FCC
not only to establish community-based conser-
vation efforts for fishing cats in India, but also to
create collaborations with international citizens
leading to the publication of such articles.
References
EGREE. 2013. Fishing cat conservation in EGREE
region. EGREE Foundation, Kakinada, India.
Islam S., Nawaz R. & Moazzam M. 2015. A sur-
vey of smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspi-
cillata sindica) and fishing cat (Prionailurus
viverrinus) in Chotiari Reservoir, Sanghar,
Pakistan using camera traps. International
Journal of Biology and Biotechnology 12,
579-584.
Jutzeler E., Xie Y. & Vogt K. 2010. Fishing cat
Prionailurus viverrinus. Cat News Special Is-
sue 5, 48-49.
Kolipaka S. 2006. Fishing cat on India’s east
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McKerrow L. 2015. Found! Fishing cat in coastal
Cambodia. Fauna & Flora International. URL
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Mirza P. H. & Omar M. 2008. Fishing cat es-
capes in Seaview, Karachi. Pakistan Animal
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nuary 2016.
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son K., Sreedhar S. S. & Rao A. 2015. Recent
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UNI 2007. Four feet rare fishing cat sighted
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ka-1174335035.html
1 251-D, KDA, Scheme No. 1-A, Stadium Road,
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
*<farazhzubairi@yahoo.com>
2 Fishing Cat Conservancy, 8839 E McClellan St,
Tucson, Arizona 85710, U.S.A.
3 University of Arizona Wild Cat Research and Con-
servation Center, 1311 E 4th St, Tucson, Arizona
85721, U.S.A.
RINZIN PHUNJOK LAMA1, PAUL O’CONNOR2, KEA ANDRE3, TASHI R. GHALE1 AND GANGA RAM
REGMI1*
Historical evidence of Pallas’s
cat in Nyesyang valley, Ma-
nang, Nepal
Pallas’s cat Otocolobus manul skin was found with local people of Manang district,
Nepal in 1987 when two of the co-authors (Paul O’Connor and Kea Andre) travelled
there to film snow leopards. This evidence suggests that the Pallas’s cat has histo-
rically been living in Nyesyang valley. The specimen was hidden away as a private
specimen and was not offered for sale in contrast with other carnivores known
from the area, which were on offer to tourists for sale. Since the information on this
rare Pallas’s cat is very scanty, this short communication will help to increase the
knowledge about this cat in Nepal Himalaya.
Pallas’s cat also called manul, is a small wild
cat species which is distributed in the grass-
lands and montane steppe of Central Asia.
It has been classified as Near Threatened in
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due its
habitat degradation, prey-base decline and
hunting (Ross et al. 2015). It has been listed
in CITES Appendix II. A live specimen has
recently been discovered and photographed
in Nepal’s Annapurna Conservation Area
(Shrestha et al., 2014). However, the infor-
mation on this rare wild cat is limited. This
paper describes the historical presence of
manul and other carnivores in Nyesyang val-
ley, Manang district. It seems the cats along
with other carnivores were hunted for trade
in local markets.
From October to December 1987 and from
February to May 1988, two of the co-authors
(Paul O’Connor and Kea Andre) had travel-
led to Nyesyang valley, Manang district, to
make a documentary about the valley and
its inhabitants, and also the wildlife. The
main interest was to film snow leopards
Panthera uncia. Local villagers were asked
about local wildlife, locations (presence/
Fig. 1. Kea Andre with Pallas’s cat skin in
Ngawal Village in 1988. (Photo P. O’Connor).
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Chotiari Reservoir located in District Sanghar, Sindh, Pakistan is known for its high biodiversity. Several threatened species of animals and plants including smooth coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata sindica) and fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) are known to abound this wetland. A survey for authenticating the presence and active nesting sites of smooth coated otter and fishing cat was conducted during 2012. Two of the four installed camera traps have captured photos of fishing cat whereas two cameras were successful in photographing a family of smooth-coated otter composed of five individuals. The survey confirmed the presence of two species which otherwise considered to be rare or locally extinct.
Article
Full-text available
In coastal South India, the first published records of confirmed evidence-based observations of fishing cats Prionailurus viverrinus were in 2006, and then again in 2012 and 2014, all from the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of Andhra Pradesh. With the use of recent local news articles, interviews with local people, field tracking, and camera-trap surveys outside protected areas, we recorded fishing cats in several more locations along the coastline of Andhra Pradesh from November 2013 until August 2014. We present our findings through an online, interactive map and promote the need for data sharing on fishing cats. Based on the reports and our preliminary findings, we surmise that the Krishna and Coringa Wildlife Sanctuaries and proximal mangroves probably hold the southernmost, sizeable populations of fishing cats in India. We also provide details on needed community-based measures for the long-term conservation of fishing cats in this region.
Found! Fishing cat in coastal Cambodia
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McKerrow L. 2015. Found! Fishing cat in coastal Cambodia. Fauna & Flora International. URL http://www.fauna-flora.org/news/fishingcat-found-in-coastal-cambodia/.
Fishing cat escapes in Seaview
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Mirza P. H. & Omar M. 2008. Fishing cat escapes in Seaview, Karachi. Pakistan Animal Welfare Society. URL http://pawspakistan. org/2008/10/14/fishing-cat-escapes-inseaview-karachi/.
Fishing cat on India's east coast
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Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus
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Jutzeler E., Xie Y. & Vogt K. 2010. Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus. Cat News Special Issue 5, 48-49.
Fishing cat conservation in EGREE region
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EGREE. 2013. Fishing cat conservation in EGREE region. EGREE Foundation, Kakinada, India.
Prionailurus viverrinus
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Four feet rare fishing cat sighted in Bhitarkanika
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