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First record of fishing cat in Sur Sarovar MVS



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ISSN 1027-2992
N° 63 | Spring 2016
CATnews 63 Spring 2016
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CATnews 63 Sprig 2016
short communication
First record of fishing cat in
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary,
Agra, India
The fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus is a wetland dependant endangered spe-
cies. Its population shows a decreasing trend all across its distribution. In the last
decade , there have been many records of presence of fishing cat in India. On 18
February 2016 in the morning, a dead fishing cat was spotted on the National High-
way 2 in Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Agra, India. This is the first record of the
presence of fishing cat within this sanctuary.
The fishing cat is a wetland dependant endan-
gered species (Taylor et al. 2016, Naidu et al.
2015, Mukherjee et al. 2010, Mukherjee et al.
2012). It is a nocturnal, rare and elusive cat
that can swim well and prey primarily on fish
and rodents (Mukherjee et al. 2010, Adhya et
al. 2011). Its population shows a decreasing
trend all across its distribution (Taylor et al.
2016, Mukherjee et al. 2010). It is listed in the
Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)
Act 1972 and as Endangered in the 2010 as-
sessment of the IUCN Red List of Threatened
Species (IUCN 2015). Major threats to this
species are from anthropogenic activities like
encroachments, over-harvesting of aquatic
resources, pollution from industries and agri-
culture, poaching of fishes in protected areas
and retaliatory killing (Mukherjee et al. 2012,
Mukherjee et al. 2010). There have been re-
cords of illegal trade of fishing cat skins in
India (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002 cited in
Mukherjee et al. 2010).
There have been several new records of the
presence of the fishing cat in the last deca-
de but these were largely from South Asia,
whereas in South-east Asia there were
many unsubstantiated records in the past
but these are now uncertain (Nekaris 2003,
Duckworth et al. 2005, Mukherjee et al. 2010,
Anonymous 2014, Taylor et al. 2016). In India,
published records are from the Upper Ganges
canal in Ghaziabad town of Muradnagar (Uttar
Pradesh; Singh 2015), Nagpur (Maharashtra;
WPSI 2005 cited in Mukherjee et al. 2010),
Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur in
Rajasthan (Mukherjee et al. 2012), Coringa
Wildlife Sanctuary (Naidu et al. 2015, Sankar
2014, Kolipaka 2006) and in Krishna Wildlife
Sanctuary plus outside this protected area in
Andhra Pradesh (Naidu 2014), Greater Noida
in Uttar Pradesh (Ghosal 2014), Howrah and
Hooghly in West Bengal (Adhya et al. 2011).
Jhala et al. (2015) reported the presence of
fishing cat in Corbett Tiger Reserve (Uttrak-
hand), Dudhwa National Park (Uttar Pradesh),
Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (Uttar Pradesh), Valmi-
ki Tiger Reserve (Bihar), Ranthambore Tiger
Reserve (Rajasthan; also reported by Sadhu
& Reddy 2013), Simlipal Tiger Reserve (Odi-
sha), Orang National Park (Assam) and in the
Sundarbans landscape (West Bengal) (also
reported by Gupta 2012). These records are
based upon evidence through camera trap-
ping, sign surveys, DNA extraction, and inter-
views with locals, road accidents or snaring.
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary (27°14°8.95''N/
77°51''9.37'E), an Important Bird Area (BNHS
2014) lies in the Indo-Gangetic plains and is
situated on the banks of the river Yamuna
(Gupta et al. 2004, Lawania & Trigunayat
2015) and adjoins National Highway 2 NH2.
It was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1991
and it occupies a total area of 7,99 km2, in-
cluding approx. 3 km2 of a manmade lake
(made in 1922), fed by the Agra canal chan-
neled from the Okhla barrage (Kumar 2010).
It is one of the 115 wetlands identified un-
der National Wetland Conservation Program
since 2007 (MoEFCC 2007), now referred as
the National Plan for Conservation of Aqua-
tic Eco-systems NPCA (MoEFCC 2011). Ma-
thura refinery (Indian Oil Corporation) pumps
water from this lake through the irrigation
department. The river and the lake inside
the sanctuary provide a suitable habitat and
food for many mammals, reptiles and birds.
The common species of fishes found here
are Catla Catla catla, Rohu Labeo rohita,
Mangur Clarias magur, Tilapia Tilapia sp.,
Bam Anguilliformes sp., Singhi Heteropneu-
stes fossilis. The sanctuary has Northern
Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest (Champion &
Seth 1968). There are few invasive species
of plants and shrub found here like Lanta-
na camara, Parthenium hysterophorus and
Prosopis juliflora. The lake and its shore line
were invaded by Eichhornia crassipes and
Ipomea sp. These aquatic invasive species
Fig. 1. A dead fishing cat found in Sur Sarovar bird Sanctuary, Agra, India, on 18 Feb-
ruary 2016 (Photo Wildlife SOS).
CATnews 63 Spring 2016
Prerna et al.
were removed and are checked since 2006
(Kumar 2010).
Major anthropogenic disturbances in the
sanctuary are lease of land to other de-
partments, widening of the highway (NH2),
poaching of fishes, excessive collection of
fuel wood, cattle grazing, fluctuation in the
water level due to unsupervised extraction of
water by the refinery, encroachments, noise
pollution by vehicles as the sanctuary is adja-
cent to the NH2, large gathering of people for
cremation and “Bhandara” a religious feast
by individuals or institutions attended by a
mass gathering of people (Kumar 2010 and
personal observations).
On 18 February 2016 in the morning, a
dead fishing cat was spotted on the NH2
at 27°14'36.33'' N and 77°49'47.70'' E (Fig.
1). The carcass was brought to the Wildlife
Hospital of Wildlife SOS Bear Rescue Faci-
lity in coordination with the forest depart-
ment. A detailed examination of the carcass
was done by the wildlife biologist and vete-
rinary officer. It was found that its right fo-
relimb and hind limb were fractured, which
is possible because of a road accident. The
stomach was empty and congested, and the
cat had ticks. The carcass was burnt after
the necropsy. The possible reason of the de-
ath was a traumatic shock due to the road
accident. The fishing cat was a male weig-
hing 14 kg (5-16 kg in Menon 2014, 11-15 kg
in Prater 2005), body length 66.04 cm, tail
30.48 cm, head 21.59 cm and chest girth un-
der the forelegs 50.8 cm.
There is an urgent need for an intensive
survey to collect more evidence of the pre-
sence of fishing cats through sign surveys,
camera trapping and molecure identifica-
tion through scats within the sanctuary, in
the fragmented patches of forest which are
along the river belt towards Mathura (30-
40 km), and in the forest patches towards
Bharatpur, which is at a distance of 34 km
from this sanctuary.
We are thankful to the Forest Department at Sur
Sarovar Bird Sanctuary for their support and gui-
dance. We also thank Wildlife SOS for the ser-
vices and facilities.
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1 Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttrakhand
248001, India
2 Agra Bear Rescue Facility, Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctu-
ary, Keetham, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282007, India
3 Wildlife SOS, D-210 Defence Colony. New Delhi,
1100024, Inida
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
p>The status of the Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal was assessed by camera trapping and pugmark searches from 2011 to 2014. The reserve is a highly dynamic and unstable snow-fed braided river system with many anabranches and islands. Evidence of Fishing Cats was found throughout most of the reserve. They were probably more abundant on the eastern side, among the islands of the main river channel, and in the adjacent buffer zone where there was a chain of fishponds and marsh areas fed by seepage from the main river channel. Evidence of Fishing Cats was found up to 6km north of the reserve on the Koshi River but not beyond this. The population is probably small and may be isolated but given the endangered status of the species, is significant. The main likely threats identified are wetland and riparian habitat deterioration caused by over exploitation and illegal grazing by villagers, overfishing of wetlands and rivers within the reserve, and direct persecution arising from perceived conflicts with fish farming and poultry husbandry. Required conservation actions are discussed. </div
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.
Full-text available
In India, it has been known so far that fishing cats are mainly found in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, in wetlands along the Ganga and Brahmaputra River valleys, and sparsely along the east coast of Central and South India. Fishing cats are likely extirpated from the wetlands of western and southwestern India. Current threats to fishing cats and their mangrove/wetland habitats include lack of awareness, direct persecution, deforestation , and land encroachment for aquacul-ture/agriculture. Fishing cats are listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. On the east coast of Central and South India, only a few intact, small populations of fishing cats are known to occur, and these are subject to heavy habitat loss, persecution, and poaching by humans. To date, there have been no extensive surveys on the occurrence of fishing cat populations, their habitat, or diet requirements in coastal South India. Until recently, only two published records in the peer-reviewed literature and anec-dotal information were available on the distribution and ecology of fishing cats in South India. Therefore, we saw an urgent need to carry out a community-based survey and establish long-term conservation measures to protect this species from local extinction. In early 2014, we began establishing the Fishing Cat Conservancy (FCC) with the mission to promote the perpetual survival of fishing cats in the wild through public awareness and education, community based c o n s e r v a-tion of fishing cats and their habitat , and mit-igation of human-wild cat conflicts throughout their range. With seed funds from t h e Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and the Small Wild Cat Conservation Alliance in January 2014, we started a community-based fishing cat conservation project which is currently being coordinated by the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society (EGWS), our first conservation partner in India. Wild Oasis later supported us with supplemental funds in May 2014, for purchasing wildlife cameras and employing local people to work for surveying fishing cats outside Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh (AP), India. Soon afterwards, in June 2014, additional funds raised through the Feline Conservation Federation at their latest convention held in Scottsdale, Arizona, helped startup the FCC in multiple ways. First, we were able to provide support to our local conservation heroes, Ramesh and Appa Rao (the mangrove man of India), with capacity-building training on wildlife camera based monitoring of fishing cats and funds to continue wildlife camera setup to document fishing cats in the last remaining, yet unprotected mangrove tracts along the coast of northern AP, India. Second, Murthy Kantimahanti, President of the EGWS and local coordinator of this fishing cat project in coastal AP, conducted several more questionnaire surveys with villagers to document the occurrence of fishing cats, and two education programs for schoolchildren in schools not very far away from where fishing cats occur. So far, we have reached out to about 65 local villagers doing questionnaire surveys and about 200 schoolchildren through conservation education programs in 2014. Finally, we were able to launch the FCC website (
Full-text available
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.
Full-text available
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.
Full-text available
The Jungle Cat Felis chaus is widespread in India and neighbouring countries but is known by only one historical specimen from Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam (Indochina), widely published as from Vietnam, but in fact from Cambodia. All but two of the recent Indochinese records come from extensive natural lowland habitat dominated by deciduous dipterocarp forest in northeast Cambodia. The species probably occurred more widely in Indochina, largely through additional use of secondary habitats, where hunting pressure is now very heavy. Suggestions of decline in Indochina are corroborated by more conclusive evidence from Thailand. In Indochina, all other small and medium-sized cats are recorded much more frequently than Jungle Cat: closed evergreen forest supports source populations of them, but there is no evidence that Jungle Cat uses extensively such forest. The open forests of northern and eastern Cambodia are highly significant for conserving threatened biodiversity, notably large waterbirds, vultures and ungulates, groups where species formerly widespread across Indochina have contracted in range and declined steeply. These taxa were better collected than small cats and it seems plausible that Jungle Cat showed a similar change. Jungle Cat conservation in Indochina needs extensive habitat retention with intensive anti-poaching activities, because suitable habitat is easily accessible to hunters. The habitat adaptability shown elsewhere by Jungle Cat could allow a much healthier regional conservation status if hunting (including trapping) can be greatly reduced in scrub and agricultural habitats, but changing culturally ingrained hunting practices will take a long time.
Status survey of Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Howrah and Hooghley, West Bengal, Intermediate report submitted to the Small Grants Programme
  • T Adhya
  • P Dey
  • U Das
  • P Hazra
Adhya T., Dey P., Das U., Hazra P. 2011. Status survey of Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Howrah and Hooghley, West Bengal, Intermediate report submitted to the Small Grants Programme, WWF, India.
Important bird areas. Retrieved March 8
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). (2014, May 25). Important bird areas. Retrieved March 8, 2016, from