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Abstract

We observed a rare feeding behaviour of a fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus on a dog-faced water snake Cerberus rynchops and pond heron Ardeola grayii in the mangroves of the Godavari delta in India. Since fishing cats are threatened due to various levels of anthropogenic pressure, these observations giving insight into their behaviour highlight the need to study these elusive cats.
ISSN 1027-2992
CAT
news
N° 67 | Spring 2018
CATnews 67 Spring 2018
02
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short communication
to work in the Tipeshewar Wildlife Sanctuary.
We also thank Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director of
Species & Landscapes, WWF-India, for support-
ing the work. We wish to thank Mr. Avinash Du-
bey, Mr. Ajit Patel and Mr. Jitendra Jangade for
helping us in the field.
References
Athreya V. 2010. Rusty-spotted cat more common
than we think? Cat News 53, 27.
Behera S. & Borah J. 2010. Mammal mortality
due to road vehicles in Nagarjunasagar-Sri-
sailam Tiger Reserve, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Mammalia 74, 427-430.
GIRIDHAR MALLA1, PAROMITA RAY1 AND K. SIVAKUMAR1
Feeding behaviour of fishing
cat in the Godavari mangroves,
India
We observed a rare feeding behaviour of a fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus on
a dog-faced water snake Cerberus rynchops and pond heron Ardeola grayii in the
mangroves of the Godavari delta in India. Since fishing cats are threatened due to
various levels of anthropogenic pressure, these observations giving insight into their
behaviour highlight the need to study these elusive cats.
Fishing cat is one of the highly threatened
small cat species which inhabits wetlands
and marshy areas across its range. Present-
ly the fishing cat is categorised as Vulner-
able by the IUCN Red List of Threatened
Species (Mukherjee et al. 2016), but little
is known about its behaviour and ecology.
Therefore, since 2013 we have been stud-
ying this elusive species in the mangrove
forests of the Godavari delta at the south-
east coast of India.
The Godavari River is the second longest ri-
ver in India flowing into the Bay of Bengal in
Andhra Pradesh; at its confluence with the
sea a large contiguous stretch of mangroves
is formed. The total area of the Godavari
mangroves is 316 km2, of which 235.7 km2 is
notified as Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Ra-
vishankar et al. 2004). In this paper, we pre-
sent some interesting observations recorded
during our field surveys on feeding habits of
fishing cats in the Godavari mangroves.
In May 2014, we came across a solitary male
fishing cat foraging on the creeks during low
tide at around 11:30 h. After a few minutes
waiting at the bank for fishes in the creek,
the cat started walking again. Suddenly the
cat spotted a basking dog-faced water snake
on the bank; with a sudden strike it attacked
the snake to kill it and started consuming it
(Fig. 1). When hunting for fishes in the creeks
or for catching prey fishing cats can remain
in a steady position for several hours without
making any movement, only moving their
ears occasionally to capture the surrounding
sounds. We observed this kind of behaviour
on several occasions during our surveys. This
kind of behaviour was also explained by lo-
cal fishermen who hunt in the creeks, they
call this behaviour “Matumeeda unna pilli”,
which in their local language Telugu means
“ambush by the cat in silence”. Such obser-
vations have been filmed several times.
On 17 January 2017, we observed a solita-
ry male fishing cat hunting a pond heron in
the sanctuary area. Within a matter of few
seconds the cat emerged out of the mangrove
Management plan of Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctu-
ary for 2008-2009 to 2017-2018. Nagpur Wild-
life Division, Maharashtra, India.
Lele Y. & Chunekar H. 2013. Sighting of a rusty-
spotted cat in Amboli village, India. Cat News
59,12.
Wilson D. E. & Reeder D. M. (Eds). 2005. Mammal
species of the world, a taxonomic and geogra-
phic reference. 3rd edition, The Johns Hopkins
University Press, Baltimore, Maryland. 142 pp.
Vasava A., Bipin C. M., Solanki R. & Singh A.
2012. Record of rusty-spotted cat from Kuno
Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Cat News 57, 22-23.
Vyas V., Lakhmapurkar J. & Gavali D. 2007. Sight-
ing of rusty spotted cat from new localities in
central Gujarat. Cat News 46, 18.
1 WWF-India, Field office Haldwani, Uttarakhand,
India
*<blumepraja7@gmail.com>
2 WWF-India, Satpuda Maikal Landscape, Tiger
Conservation Programme, Madhya Pradesh
3 WWF-India, 172-B, Lodi Estate, New Delhi
4 Chief Conservator of Forest & Field Director
Pench Tiger Reserve, Civil Lines, Nagpur
Fig. 1. Fishing cat seen feeding on dog-faced water snake in
mangroves of Godavari Delta, India (Photo G. Malla).
Fig. 2. Fishing cat seen hunting Pond Heron in the mangroves of
Godavari Delta, India (Photo G. Malla).
CATnews 67 Spring 2018
31
thickets, pounced on the bird, grabbed it by
the neck and went back into the forest (Fig. 2).
Both observations were made during the low
tide when the water was receding. These ob-
servations also matched with the two years
of camera trapping data that suggest fishing
cats being more active during low tide times
in the Godavari Delta.
Though fishing cats mostly prey on fish, they
also feed on small birds, rodents, reptiles,
insects, frogs, molluscs and crustaceans
(Haque & Vijayan 1993, Sunquist & Sunquist
2002). They are also known to scavenge on
carcasses and prey on poultry (Sunquist &
Sunquist 2002, Cutter & Cutter 2009). How-
ever, such direct observations of fishing cats
hunting and feeding on different prey like
dog-faced water snake and pond heron are
very rarely reported. Therefore, these obser-
vations can give an insight into the feeding
ecology and behaviour of this threatened
species.
One of the major threats to fishing cat pop-
ulations in India is wetland degradation
(Mukherjee et al. 2016) and about 50% of
the Asian wetlands are in moderate to high
degree of threat (Scott & Poole 1989). The
rapid changes in the Godavari mangroves
due to encroachment of aquaculture ponds,
shipping industries, and oil refineries are
the immediate threats to the fishing cat
short communication
SHAILENDRA KUMAR YADAV1*, BABU RAM LAMICHHANE1, NARESH SUBEDI1, MAHESHWAR
DHAKAL2, RAMESH KUMAR THAPA3, LAXMAN PRASAD POUDYAL4 AND BHAGAWAN RAJ
DAHAL5
Fishing cat camera trapped in
Babai Valley of Bardia Nation-
al Park, Nepal
Fishing cats Prionailurus viverrinus are globally threatened. Recent surveys suggest
further decline of their populations throughout their range. In Nepal, their status is
poorly known. However, due to increasing intensity of camera trap surveys, fishing
cats were recorded in different protected areas in recent years. In Bardia National
Park BNP of western Nepal, we recorded 15 photos (10 left and 5 right flanks) of fish-
ing cats during a camera trap survey targeted at tigers in winter 2016/2017. Solitary
fishing cats were camera trapped at a single location in Babai valley of Bardia dur-
ing two events within a week. Fishing cat was supposed to exist in Bardia but this is
the first conclusive evidence with photographs.
population in the delta. These mangroves
are of global importance and with proper
management we can ensure the survival of
not only fishing cats, but also other threat-
ened fauna such as the vulnerable smooth-
coated otter Lutrogale perspicillata (Subba
Rao 2013).
Acknowledgements
These observations were carried as part of
UNDP-GEF-MoEF&CC project, ‘Establishment of
Knowledge based Management System in the
East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem EGREE
of the Wildlife Institute of India WII and MBZ
Species Conservation Grant for “Godavari Fishing
Cat Project”. We would like to thank the Direc-
tor and Dean of our institute for providing us the
facilities and infrastructure. Special thanks to
Andhra Pradesh Forest Department who provid-
ed us with necessary permissions to carry out the
study.
References
Cutter P. & Cutter P. 2009. Recent sightings of fish-
ing cats in Thailand. Cat News 51, 26-27.
Kolipaka S. 2006. Fishing Cat on India’s East Coast.
Cat News 44, 22.
Haque N. M. & Vijayan V. 1993. Food habits of the
Fishing Cat Felis viverrina in Keoladeo Nation-
al Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Journal of the
Bombay Natural History Society 90, 498-500.
Mukherjee S., Appel A., Duckworth J. W., San-
derson J., Dahal S., Willcox D. H. A., Herranz
Muñoz V., Malla G., Ratnayaka A., Kantimahanti
M., Thudugala A., Thaung R. & Rahman H. 2016.
Prionailurus viverrinus. The IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species2016: e.T18150A50662615.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.
RLTS.T18150A50662615.en. Downloaded on 14
February 2018.
Pocock R. I. 1939. The Fauna of British India,
Mammalia, Volume I. Primates and Carni-
vora, 2nd edition. Taylor and Francis, London.
569 pp.
Ravishankar T., Gnanappazham L., Ramasubrama-
nian R., Sridhar D., Navamuniyammal M. &
Selvam V. 2004. Atlas of Mangrove Wetlands
of India, Part 2 Andhra Pradesh. M.S. Swami-
nathan Research Foundation, Chennai.
Scott D. M. & Poole C. M. 1989. A status overview
of Asian wetlands. Publ. no. 53, Asian Wet-
lands Bureau, Kuala Lumpur.
Sunquist M. E. & Sunquist F. C. 2002. Wild Cats of
the World. University Chicago Press, Chicago.
416 pp.
Subba Rao M. V. 2013. Endangered otters in Corin-
ga Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh, India.
B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. 106 pp.
1 Wildlife Institute of India, Post Box # 18, Chand-
rabani, Dehradun 248 001, Uttarakhand, India
*<mallagiridhar@gmail.com>
The fishing cat is globally threatened (Vul-
nerable, Mukherjee et al. 2016) and nation-
ally Endangered (Jnawali et al. 2011). As
a habitat specialist with high dependency
on wetlands, fishing cats have a disconti-
nuous distribution throughout their range.
In Nepal, they occur in the Terai region
but their actual distribution is not well
understood. They have been reported be-
fore from Chitwan National Park NP (Dahal
& Dahal 2011) and Koshi Tappu Wildlife
Reserve WR in Central and Eastern Terai
respectively. In Western Terai, they were
recorded from Shuklaphanta NP (DNPWC
unpublished data) and Jagdishpur reser-
voir (a Ramsar site; Dahal et al. 2015).
Although fishing cats are believed to exist
in BNP, conclusive evidence has not been
reported before despite various ecological
researches on carnivores and extensive ca-
mera trap surveys (Odden & Wegge 2005,
Wegge et al. 2009, Dhakal et al. 2014). A
naturalist (B. Chaudary, pers. comm.) re-
ported the sighting of fishing cat during
1990s to the first author but without pho-
tographic evidence. We present here the
first photographic evidence of fishing cat
in Babai Valley of BNP during the camera
trap survey in 2016-2017.
... Fishing cats are a globally Vulnerable (Mukherjee et al. 2016) small wild cat associated with inland and coastal wetlands, and marshes within its global range in South and South-east Asia (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, Malla et al. 2018. In Sri Lanka the species is classified as Endangered (Ministry of Environment Sri Lanka 2012) and has previously been recorded in montane and dry forests (Thudugala & Ranawana 2015), dry zone habitats (Kittle & Watson 2018), as well as within the urban wetlands of Colombo (Balagalla et al. 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
The fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus is a small wild cat that is often associated with water-rich habitats such as wetlands and mangroves. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, the presence of fishing cats in the city’s urban wetlands was confirmed in 2004, but no data was available after that. In this follow-up study, my team and I confirmed the presence of fishing cats within the city proper in 2015 and again in 2017, making this the first photographic record of fishing cats in a hyper urban landscape.
... 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). However, in West Bengal, presence of fishing cats are only reported from some protected areas (Das et al. 2017;Mallick 2019) and also from a few locations of Howrah, Hooghly and East Medinipur districts (Adhya 2011;Mukherjee et al. 2012Mukherjee et al. , 2016Kolipaka et al. 2019;Chakraborty et al. 2020) as shown in Fig. 1. ...
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. ...
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.
... Further, we used kernel density estimation method to look for temporal overlap in diurnal activity patterns of individual fishing cats which indicated a potential temporal partitioning between closely occurring male individuals. kumar 2014, Malla 2016, Malla et al. 2018. Our surveys also confirmed the presence of fishing cats in other mangrove areas of the delta and found that fishing cat's likelihood of occurrence increase with the presence of mangrove cover (Malla 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Most of the wild cats tend towards temporal and spatial partitioning among each other to avoid encounters or competition for resources. However, little information is available on the fine-scale spatial and temporal interactions among fishing cats Prio- nailurus viverrinus in the wild. Herewith, we describe the spatial distribution pattern of fishing cat individuals within a population in order to understand their intra-speci- fic interactions based on our 4 years of camera trap observations in mangrove forests of Godavari delta, India. Further, we used kernel density estimation method to look for temporal overlap in diurnal activity patterns of individual fishing cats which indicated a potential temporal partitioning between closely occurring male individuals.
Article
Fishing cats Prionailurus viverrinus are globally threatened. Recent surveys suggest further decline of their populations throughout their range. In Nepal, their status is poorly known. However, due to increasing intensity of camera trap surveys, fishing cats were recorded in different protected areas in recent years. In Bardia National Park BNP of western Nepal, we recorded 15 photos (10 left and 5 right flanks) of fishing cats during a camera trap survey targeted at tigers in winter 2016/2017. Solitary fishing cats were camera trapped at a single location in Babai valley of Bardia during two events within a week. Fishing cat was supposed to exist in Bardia but this is the first conclusive evidence with photographs.
Fishing Cat on India's East Coast
  • S Kolipaka
Kolipaka S. 2006. Fishing Cat on India's East Coast. Cat News 44, 22.
Food habits of the Fishing Cat Felis viverrina in Keoladeo National Park
  • N M Haque
  • V Vijayan
Haque N. M. & Vijayan V. 1993. Food habits of the Fishing Cat Felis viverrina in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 90, 498-500.
The Fauna of British India, Mammalia, Volume I. Primates and Carnivora, 2 nd edition
  • R I Pocock
Pocock R. I. 1939. The Fauna of British India, Mammalia, Volume I. Primates and Carnivora, 2 nd edition. Taylor and Francis, London. 569 pp.
Atlas of Mangrove Wetlands of India
  • T Ravishankar
  • L Gnanappazham
  • R Ramasubramanian
  • D Sridhar
  • M Navamuniyammal
  • V Selvam
Ravishankar T., Gnanappazham L., Ramasubramanian R., Sridhar D., Navamuniyammal M. & Selvam V. 2004. Atlas of Mangrove Wetlands of India, Part 2 Andhra Pradesh. M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai.
A status overview of Asian wetlands
  • D M Scott
  • C M Poole
Scott D. M. & Poole C. M. 1989. A status overview of Asian wetlands. Publ. no. 53, Asian Wetlands Bureau, Kuala Lumpur.
Endangered otters in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Subba Rao
Subba Rao M. V. 2013. Endangered otters in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh, India. B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. 106 pp.