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Notes on fishing cats of Godavari delta Andhra Pradesh India


Abstract and Figures

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.
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ISSN 1027-2992
N° 70 | Autumn 2019
CATnews 70 Autumn 2019
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CATnews 70 Autumn 2019
original contribution
Notes on the fishing cats of
the Godavari delta, Andhra
Pradesh, India
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.
Fig. 1. Map of
Coringa Wildlife
Sanctuary, show-
ing the camera
trap captures of
the 13 fishing
cats in the Corin-
ga creek.
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). Here we dis-
cuss some observations on the behaviour of
few individual fishing cats made during the
four years of camera trap surveys in the man-
grove forests along “Coringa creek” – a ma-
jor sub-tidal creek present inside the Coringa
Wildlife Sanctuary.
An intricate network of sub-tidal and intertidal
creeks is present across the sanctuary leading
to the formation of small to large patches of
islands dominated by mangrove forests. The
“Coringa Creek” is one of the largest sub-tidal
creeks in CWS. The width of the Coringa Creek
ranged from 65 to 112 m, depth of the creek
ranged between 1.6 to 4.4 m and the vegeta-
tion is mostly dominated by Avicennia marina,
Avicennia officinalis and Excoecaria agallocha
mangroves. The creek at many places is also
lined by dense patches of mangrove-associ-
ates such as thorny shrub Acanthus ilicifolius
and grass species like Myriostachya wightia-
na. Further, the Coringa creek is connected to
three minor sub-tidal creeks – Pagalagedda,
Mettapadava and Gullarasu Kaluva. The creek
gets ample freshwater from various channels
of the Godavari river, so the salinity varied
from 0 to 15 ppt during the study period. Using
the patterns of spots and stripes, 20 individu-
als of fishing cats were identified from the
mangrove forests along Coringa creek, but
sufficient data could be recorded only for 13
individuals, which were selected for further
analysis (Supporting Online Material SOM
Table T1). Amongst the 13 fishing cat indivi-
duals, eight were males (C4, C5, C6, C7, C8,
C9, C 11 and C12) and five were females (C1,
C2, C3, C10 and C13). These observations are
largely based on the data collected during the
camera trapping surveys inside the protected
area (Fig. 1).
In 2014, a total of three individuals (2 females
– C1 and C2, and 1 male C5) were recorded
in the mangrove forests along the Coringa
Creek. The turnover of photo-captures con-
siderably increased in 2015 when nine new
individuals were recorded. In comparison to
the other 13 individuals, C1 – a female, had
the highest frequency of captures (N = 61). C1
was captured mainly over an area of 3 km2
during the four-year period indicating that it
might be a resident female in that mangrove
patch (Fig. 2). The first capture of this female
was on 7 May 2014. The movement of C1 was
With a huge catchment area of >300,000 km2,
the Godavari River is the second longest river
in India (Rao et al. 2015). An extensive stretch
of riverine mangrove forests is formed at
its mouth into the Bay of Bengal in the East
Coast, making them as the second largest
contiguous patch of mangroves in India. The
mangrove patch above the main tributary of
Godavari River is accorded protection in Co-
ringa Wildlife Sanctuary CWS. The fishing cat
is categorised as Vulnerable by The IUCN Red
List of Threatened Species™ and is a threat-
ened felid species, which inhabits mangroves,
swamps, wetlands, highlands, and riverine
habitats in most of its range countries in
South and South-East Asia (Mukherjee et al.
2016). Much of the information on fishing cat
ecology and behaviour from the wild is rare
(Nowell & Jackson 1996, Sunquist & Sunquist
2002). During the period between 2014 and
2017, camera trap surveys were carried out
in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary that resulted in
an estimate of >90 fishing cat individuals in-
side the sanctuary, and generated significant
information on this elusive species’ habitat
use and behaviour in the wild (Malla & Siva-
CATnews 70 Autumn 2019
closely followed by a male fishing cat named
C5. There were multiple captures of these two
fishing cats at the same camera trap locations
within 20 minutes intervals. Further, camera
trap images showed that the male C5 was ob-
served moving over an area larger than that of
the female C1 and that his range overlapped
with another female as well as male individu-
als. The activity of C5 was regularly captured
(N = 37) until 2 March 2015 after which this
male was never captured in any of the subse-
quent years in the sanctuary. A second male
C4 was recorded in the same range as that
of C1. Subsequent to its first photo-capture on
26 December 2016, this male was recorded
46 times during the survey. The male C4 was
also observed on a number of occasions to be
following the movement of C1 female.
In April 2017, one of the camera traps re-
corded female C1 with a female cub. At the
same trap location, on 2 May 2017, C1 and
her cub accompanied by the male C4. This is
perhaps the first record from the wild of a fe-
male fishing cat and its cub with a male fish-
ing cat (Fig. 3). In captivity, male fishing cats
have been known to help females in rearing
the young and several reports indicate that
fishing cats in captivity are quite tolerable to
each other (Barbara 1995, Sunquist & Sun-
quist 2002). However, reports of female and
male fishing cats staying together and socia-
bility among them in the wild are rare. Since
the estuary provides sufficient resources like
fishes and other prey, fine-scale tolerance
is adapted within individuals, but further re-
search is required to prove it.
The female C2 was another individual that was
first photo-captured on 5 May 2014. Her home
range was located to the south of the female
C1’s home range. The camera trap records
show her range overlapping with another
female C13 and three males C5, C6 and C8.
Similarly, resident females and males in other
parts of the mangroves lining Coringa Creek
were identified based on the information col-
lected through the camera trap surveys. The
largest fishing cat photo-captured during this
survey was a male named C9. It was first
photo-captured on 1 March 2015 and until its
last capture on 13 May 2015, it was recorded
19 times. Being a large male, it moved across
an area of over 6 km2.
A high overlap was observed between the
home ranges of fishing cats in the mangrove
patches present along the Coringa Creek.
Therefore, activity patterns of certain individu-
al cats were observed in order to understand
intra-specific interactions among closely oc-
curring fishing cats. The ‘Overlap’ package
(Meredith & Ridout 2016) in R (R Core Team
2017) was used to construct the plots for
diurnal activity patterns or activity overlap.
Further, we followed Ridout & Linkie (2009)
to calculate the measure of temporal overlap
between the individual fishing cats, by using a
kernel density estimation method. To perform
this analysis, five closely occurring individuals
(males – C4, C5, C8, C6, and female – C1)
were selected, which also had the highest
number of photo-captures.
The highest extent of overlap in the activity
patterns of fishing cat individuals in these
mangroves was found between the female
C1 and male C5 (Δ4 = 0.72; CI 0.63–0.81) fol-
lowed by the overlap between male C6 and
male C5 4 = 0.65; CI 0.58–0.75; Fig. 4). The
female C1’s activity pattern also considera-
bly overlapped with the male C4 (Δ4 = 0.64; CI
0.55–0.71). There was a low overlap between
the activities of the female C1 and other
males. A conjecture that can be made based
on this information is, that the male C5 was
possibly a resident male with an overlapping
range with the resident female C1. The male
C5 was replaced by another male C4 proba-
bly due to death or emigration of C5 from the
area. The male C4 might have possibly mat-
ed with C1 and sired a female cub that was
first recorded in April 2017. We could not find
evidence for the presence of both C4 and C5
simultaneously in the same area. The activity
pattern of the males C8 and C4 had an overlap
(Δ4) estimate of 0.47 (CI 0.42–0.58) whereas
the overlap (Δ4) in activities of male C8 and
C5 was estimated at 0.44 (CI 0.40–0.56).
Lower estimates of Δ4 show that the male C8
had considerably low temporal overlap with
males C4 and C5 respectively and showed
different peak activity times than the latter
individuals (SOM Figure F1).
The above results show that the five fishing
cat individuals especially the males are po-
tentially tending towards temporal partition-
ing among each other to avoid encounters
or competition for resources (Sanderson &
Watson 2011, Sunarto et al. 2015). Most
males generally avoided close encounters
with other males, which might have helped
them to establish their social stability to max-
imise reproductive success (Kitchener 1991).
Another possible explanation for this tempo-
ral partitioning among the closely occurring
males could be an even distribution of fe-
male fishing cats in that area (Sandell 1989).
However, these can be proved only through
further studies on habitat use and movement
patterns using telemetry techniques.
The Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary provides well
protected and safe habitats for fishing cats
in the larger Godavari delta landscape. The
record of a fishing cat cub with its mother
within the sanctuary is a highly encouraging
sign. The frontline staff of the forest depart-
ment who manages the sanctuary has also
initiated regular monitoring of this popula-
tion in 2018. The Overlap analysis between
the activity patterns of individual fishing cats
also gave interesting insights into the behavi-
our of this threatened cat. Mangrove forests
are complex and dynamic coastal habitats
wherein space can be a limiting factor at
times – one of the possible reasons for high
fishing cat of the Godavari delta, Andhra Pradesh, India
Fig. 2. Camera trap picture of C1 foraging in the creek of the Co-
ringa inside the protected area (Photo WII, Dehradun).
Fig. 3. Camera trap picture of C1 along with her cub and male C4
in the creek of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Photo WII, Dehradun).
CATnews 70 Autumn 2019
Malla et al.
Fig. 4. Overlap diel activity patterns between 5 individual fish-
ing cats (C1, C4, C5, C6 and C8) in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary.
a) diel activity overlaps between C8 (male) and C5 (male) b) diel
activity overlap between FC C1 (female) and FC C4 (male) c)
diel activity overlap between C1 (female) and C5 (male) d) diel
activity overlap between C4 (male) and C8 (male) e) diel activity
overlap between C6 (male) and C5 (male). Shaded portions show
the extent of overlap and the number inside represent the coef-
ficient of overlap(Δ), with 95% lower and upper CI (confidence
overlaps in the home ranges of the individual
fishing cats. Nevertheless, Coringa Wildlife
Sanctuary is a crucial site for long-term con-
servation of this threatened wetland-associ-
ated species.
This study was part of a UNDP-GEF-MoEF&CC
project ‘Establishment of Knowledge based
Management System in the East Godavari Ri-
ver Estuarine Ecosystem (EGREE Project)’ of the
Wildlife Institute of India. GM was also sup-
ported by MbZ Species Conservation Fund (Pro-
ject No. 162512790) for the “Godavari Fishing
Cat Project”. The authors would like to thank the
Director and Dean of Wildlife Institute of India
for providing their support in terms of infrastruc-
ture and guidance. The authors would also like to
acknowledge the support of Andhra Pradesh For-
est Department who provided us with necessary
permissions to carry out the study. We would like
to thank Dr Jim Sanderson and Dr Upma Manral
for giving their valuable suggestions during the
preparation of the manuscript.
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cats. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, United
States of America. 280 pp.
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34, 47–51.
Malla G. 2016. Ecology and conservation
of Fishing Cat in Godavari mangroves of
Andhra Pradesh. In First International Fishing
Cat Conservation Symposium. Angie A. &
Duckworth J. (Eds). Bad Marienberg, Germa-
ny and Saltford, Bristol, United Kingdom, pp.
Malla G., Ray P. & Sivakumar K. 2018. Feeding be-
haviour of fishing cat in Godavari mangroves,
India. Cat News 67, 30–31.
Meredith M. & Ridout M. 2016. Overview of the
overlap package. R Proj, 9 pp.
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derson J. et al. 2016. Prionailurus viverrinus.
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CATnews 70 Autumn 2019
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Supporting Online Material SOM Table T1 and Fi-
gure F1 are available at
1 Wildlife Institute of India, Post Box: 18, Chandra-
bani, Dehradun, India
2 Department of Environmental Sciences, Andhra
University, Waltair, Visakhapatnam, India
3 Wildlife Conservation Society – India, Ben-
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short communication
New record of Asiatic wildcat
from Central Indian landscape
We report here a new record of the Asiatic wildcat Felis lybica ornata from moist-
deciduous forests of Central India. The subspecies was captured in a camera trap
survey undertaken to study the dispersal patterns of tiger Panhera tigris in a corridor
between the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve BTR and Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve SDTR
in eastern Madhya Pradesh. To our knowledge, this is the first record of the Asiatic
wildcat from the study area.
Fig. 1. Location of the study area and camera trap captures of Asiatic wildcat, The
Corbett Foundation, Bandhavgarh.
The Asiatic wildcat or Indian Desert cat was
previously recognised as one of the five sub-
species of the globally widespread wildcat
Felis silvestris (Yamaguchi at al. 2015). The re-
vised taxonomy of the felidae now recognises
the steppe and bush cats of Africa and Asia as
a separate species Felis lybica and the Asiatic
wildcat Felis lybica ornata as a subspecies
(Kitchener et al. 2017).
The Asiatic wildcat is distributed in Iran,
Iraq, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan,
Uzbekistan, Russia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Af-
ghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, the western
plains of India and throughout north-western
China and possibly Kyrgyzstan and Georgia
(Yamaguchi et al. 2015, Ghoddousi et al. in
prep.). In India, the wildcat is distributed in Ra-
jasthan, Gujarat, and parts of Madhya Pradesh
and Maharashtra (Menon 2014, Yamaguchi et
al. 2015). Mukherjee (1998) mentions reports
of Asiatic wildcat from Central India in Pench
Tiger Reserve, Pande et al. (2013) reported the
subspecies in Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary
and Ramesh et al. (2013) in Panna Tiger Re-
serve. More recently, the Asiatic wildcat was
reported from eastern Madhya Pradesh in BTR
(Rather et al. 2017).
In this study, we report the occurrence of Asi-
atic wildcat in the corridor joining BTR and
SDTR (Fig.1). The corridor spreads over an area
of more than 2,000 km2 and is administered as
the North and South Shahdol Forest Divisions.
Sal Shorea robusta is the dominant form of
vegetation and occurs in association with ten-
du Diospyros melanoxylon, char Buchanania
cochinchinensis, seji Lagerstromia parviflora
and Palash Butea monosperma. The corridor
is fragmented by agricultural fields and faces
high anthropogenic pressure. The study was
aimed to monitor the dispersal of tiger bet-
ween the two reserves through the corridor
by large scale camera trapping carried out for
over a year. The Asiatic wildcat was first cap-
tured in Godawal range of North Shahdol For-
est Division on 9 March 2018 at a site located
at 23°58’1.776’’ N / 81°20’39.156’’ E (Fig. 2).
The subsequent camera trapping showed the
presence of the species throughout the cor-
ridor from BTR to the SDTR. The species oc-
curred in all major habitat types including
dense sal forests, sal mix forests, scrublands
and near human habitations.
This record provides crucial information re-
garding the distribution of the Asiatic wildcat
in India. The species seems not to be restricted
to the arid and semi-arid parts of the country,
but to also occur more often than previously
thought, in moist deciduous forest. The do-
mestic cat Felis catus occurs throughout the
range of the Asiatic wildcat in India and looks
very similar in appearance to it. This record
thus needs to be supported by further genetic
Malla G., Ray P., Rajasekar P. S. & Sivakumar K. 2019. Notes on the fishing cats of the
Godavari delta, Andhra Pradesh, India. Cat News 70, 1821. Supporting Online Material
SOM T1. Details of 13 different individual fishing cats captured along the Coringa creek of Coringa Wildlife
No of images
Date first captured
Date last captured
7 May 2014
14 April 2017
5 May 2014
26 March 2015
3 Feb 2015
27 Dec 2016
26 Dec 2016
3 May 2017
31 Dec 2014
2 March 2015
23 Jan 2015
16 April 2017
4 Feb 2015
25 Dec 2016
5 Jan 2015
17 Jan 2017
1 March 2015
13 May 2015
16 March 2015
26 April 2015
5 March 2015
19 March 2015
6 Feb 2015
23 Feb 2015
2 Jan 2015
21 Jan 2017
*_ individual Fishing Cat recorded year
SOM F1. Plot showing movement patterns of 8 fishing cat individuals closely
occurring along the Coringa creek inside Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary. Other 5
individual fishing cats are not included in this map due to less photo -captures.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
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.
Full-text available
Data from camera traps that record the time of day at which photographs are taken are used widely to study daily activity patterns of photographed species. It is often of interest to compare activity patterns, for example, between males and females of a species or between a predator and a prey species. In this article we propose that the similarity between two activity patterns may be quantified by a measure of the extent to which the patterns overlap. Several methods of estimating this overlap measure are described and their comparative performance for activity data is investigated in a simulation study. The methods are illustrated by comparing activity patterns of three sympatric felid species using data from camera traps in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra. Key WordsCircular data-Clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi)-Golden cat (Catopuma Temminckii)-Kernel density estimation-Overlap coefficient-Sumatran tiger (Panthera Tigris)-Trigonometric sum distribution
A majority of the carnivore species are primarily solitary, having very little contact with conspecifics (Gittleman, this volume). These solitary species have received less attention than the group-living species, which have attracted much interest (see reviews in Macdonald and Moehlman 1982; Macdonald 1983; Bekoff et al. 1984).
At least six species of wild cats live in Sumatra. Many are globally threatened and yet their ecology is poorly understood. We investigated ecological characteristics and spatial and temporal overlap among cats in central Sumatra using data from systematic and opportunistic camera trapping in five major forest blocks. We developed occupancy models assessing probability of site use by each cat based on (1) photo-trap rates of other species at the same locations and (2) landscape-level factors extracted from geographic information systems. We also used two-species co-occurrence models to assess spatial overlap and used kernel density estimates on circular data to assess temporal overlap between species pairs. We photographed five cat species: Sumatran tigers, Sunda clouded leopards, Asiatic golden cats, marbled cats and leopard cats. Four cats were present in all sampling blocks and one sampling block had all five cats. Spatially, cat distributions varied among forest types, within the sampling blocks and across elevation. We placed camera traps at elevations ranging from 6 to 460 m above sea level. The five cats used statistically different elevations, with golden cats found at highest elevation. Site use by tigers and leopard cats negatively covaried with distance to protected areas. Clouded leopard presence covaried positively with altitude. Leopard cat presence covaried with the photo-trap rate of tigers, whereas the presence of tigers covaried with the photo-trap rate of non-cat carnivores. We found little evidence of spatial avoidance among cats at camera sites. Temporally, species more similar in size, or with similar-sized prey, had lower overlap, suggesting temporal avoidance. We identified six mechanisms promoting coexistence of central Sumatra cats. Knowledge of interspecific interactions may improve the effectiveness of management aimed at conserving the increasingly threatened wild cat community.
Ecology and conservation of Fishing Cat in Godavari mangroves of Andhra Pradesh
  • G Malla
Malla G. 2016. Ecology and conservation of Fishing Cat in Godavari mangroves of Andhra Pradesh. In First International Fishing Cat Conservation Symposium. Angie A. & Duckworth J. (Eds). Bad Marien�erg, Germa� ny and Saltford, Bristol, United Kingdom, pp. 48-50.