N° 63 | Spring 2016
CATnews 63 Spring 2016
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CATnews 63 Sprig 2016
S. PRERNA1*, BAIJU RAJ2, VIKRAMJIT SHARMA2, GEETA SESHAMANI3 AND KARTICK SATA-
First record of fishing cat in
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary,
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
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
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
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,