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Bangladesh is known as one of the key countries of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus, which is now recognized as a globally endangered species in response to its potentially rapid population declines in the last decade primarily due to habitat loss. We analysed media coverage of two major daily newspapers and interviewed local forest officials and conservationists in order to understand human fishing cat conflicts, the distribution of human-fishing cat conflicts, current management practices and public perceptions. Content analysis of a total of 82 reports on the fishing cat in local and national newspapers revealed 30 confirmed deaths in four years. Other reports included 18 rescue-release cases by the Forest Department of Bangladesh. However, the status of the cats in 38 cases remained undetermined, as there was not enough information in the news reports. A survey of fishing cat habitat inside and outside protected areas throughout Bangladesh is essential. A management plan involving local conservation groups based in villages adjacent to wetlands can help reduce possible human-fishing cat conflicts and notify local wildlife authorities to take necessary conservation actions.
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ISSN 1027-2992
CAT
news
N° 62 | SPRING 2015
CATnews 62 Spring 2015
02
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CATnews 62 Spring 2015
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original contribution
SAYAM U. CHOWDHURY1, ABIDA R. CHOWDHURY2, SAKIB AHMED2 AND SABIR BIN
MUZAFFAR3
Human-fishing cat conflicts
and conservation needs of
fishing cats in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is known as one of the key countries of the fishing cat Prionailurus vi-
verrinus, which is now recognized as a globally endangered species in response to
its potentially rapid population declines in the last decade primarily due to habitat
loss. We analysed media coverage of two major daily newspapers and interviewed
local forest officials and conservationists in order to understand human-fishing
cat conflicts, the distribution of human-fishing cat conflicts, current management
practices and public perceptions. Content analysis of a total of 82 reports on the
fishing cat in local and national newspapers revealed 30 confirmed deaths in four
years. Other reports included 18 rescue-release cases by the Forest Department of
Bangladesh. However, the status of the cats in 38 cases remained undetermined,
as there was not enough information in the news reports. A survey of fishing cat
habitat inside and outside protected areas throughout Bangladesh is essential. A
management plan involving local conservation groups based in villages adjacent
to wetlands can help reduce possible human-fishing cat conflicts and notify local
wildlife authorities to take necessary conservation actions.
The fishing cat is a globally endangered
felid. It was up-listed from Vulnerable to
Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2008
in response to the decline of at least 50%
of the wetland habitats and large-scale in-
discriminate killings. If habitat protection
efforts are not strengthened and killings
are not stopped, a future decline of similar
magnitude over the next 18 years is pro-
jected (Mukherjee et al. 2010). Fishing cat
populations are widespread but patchily
distributed throughout Asia owing to their
association with freshwater and coastal
wetlands (Mukherjee et al. 2010). Over 45%
of protected wetlands and 94% of globally
significant wetlands in Southeast Asia are
considered threatened (Dugan 1993) due
to human settlement, draining or clearing
aquatic vegetation for agriculture, depletion
of fish stocks from over-fishing, pollution
and excessive hunting and wood-cutting.
A severe decline in the fishing cat popula-
tion throughout much of its range over the
last decade led to a global population of fe-
wer than 10,000 individuals (Mukherjee et
al. 2010). The species is possibly extinct in
Pakistan and has been extirpated from many
parts of its native range in Bangladesh,
Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia (Java),
Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myan-
mar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet
Nam (Mukherjee et al. 2010). In Bangladesh,
the fishing cat is considered as endange-
red; although widely distributed anywhere
outside city limits preferring wetland-rich
areas, fairly common in the mangroves of
the Sundarbans and occurs in all protected
areas except for Ramsagar National Park
(Siddiqui et al. 2008, Islam et al. 2000).
Given the apparent significance of wetlands
and potential habitat in Bangladesh for this
species, consistent reports on killings, and
to better understand its distribution and
conservation status in the country, we coll-
ected data on fishing cat killings, hunting
incidents, as well as rescue-release cases
through reviews of a variety of media sour-
ces (primarily newspapers) and interviews
with the Forest Department staff and local
conservationists.
Methods
We compiled media reports on the fishing
cat from Bangladesh published in The Dai-
ly Star and Prothom Alo and some local
newspapers between January 2010 and
March 2013. We reviewed archives of the
two major newspapers mentioned above
from the library of North South Universi-
ty, Dhaka. We also performed web-based
searches for fishing cat incidents in other
local newspapers. Locals have often misi-
dentified fishing cats, especially cubs, due
to the possible confusion with other small
carnivores, and as a result incorrect infor-
mation has commonly been published in dai-
ly national newspapers. In order to assess
the reliability of these reports, we verified
photos from each news item and used only
confirmed fishing cat reports towards our
analysis. Additionally, to gather unpublished
information on fishing cats, we interviewed
Forest Department staff and local nature
conservationists of northeast Bangladesh
where there have been frequent reports of
killings, rescue operations and release inci-
dents related to fishing cats. While it is al-
most certain that these additional incidents
of fishing cat killings and rescue attempts
may have occurred during the same period
that we performed our survey, these data
provide an idea of the degree of human-
fishing cat conflicts and their distribution in
Bangladesh.
Results
We collected a total of 82 fishing cat reports
from news articles between January 2010
and March 2013. Collectively, we were un-
able to determine the status of 38 fishing
cats since and we suspect these individuals
were rescued and released, killed, or other-
wise died in captivity. In addition, we found
at least 10 jungle cats Felis chaus reported
dead from all over the country and one le-
opard cat Prionailurus bengalensis reported
trapped from Chauddagram, Comilla of Chit-
tagong division during February 2012. Of all
the media reports, 40.27% were confirmed
deaths, 13.88% were rescued and released
Table 1. Number of fishing cat reports collected from newspapers, together with the
status of the individuals, between January 2010 and March 2013.
Year Deaths Releases Unknown Total
2010 6 1 9 16
2011 6 5 11 22
2012 17 4 13 34
2013 1 4 5 10
Total 30 14 38 82
% 36.6 17.1 46.3
CATnews 62 Spring 2015
05
human-fishing cat conflicts
by the Forest Department and the status of
45.83% remained undetermined, as there
was no information on the conditions of the
cats after being captured by locals, or they
were taken into custody by the Bangladesh
Forest Department (Table 1). In these cases
of uncertain conditions, it was mentioned
that the fishing cats were either caught by
the villagers or rescued by the Forest Depart-
ment, however, no further information was
available on whether these cats were later
killed by local people, injured or released by
Bangladesh Forest Department after their
rescue. 90.6% of all fishing cat reports in
Bangladesh were during the dry season bet-
ween November and May, and 9.4% were
during monsoon between July and Septem-
ber (Figs. 1 & 2). Similarly, in West Bengal
out of 27 fishing cat deaths in 2010 and
2011, 70.37% were in dry season (Mukher-
jee et al. 2012). We speculate that fishing
cats are forced to search for prey in more
confined water bodies around human settle-
ments, in fisheries and in lake-like wetlands,
where local people fish during winter, resul-
ting in higher mortality during these months.
Discussion
Human-fishing cat conflicts
In almost all cases of fishing cat mortalities,
the causes of deaths were direct killing,
snaring, captures and subsequent starvation
of the cats, by the local people. We suspect
that direct killing takes place primarily be-
cause locals assume that fishing cats prey on
their livestock, fisheries and poultry. Many
of these cats were probably misidentified to
be tiger cubs or other carnivores, often out of
fear or amusement. Most fishing cat direct
deaths were due to severe beatings by mobs
of villagers, strangulations and captures, and
dead animals are later hung for display (Fig.
3, SOM F1-F3).
Reports on fishing cats varied temporally
over the study period with a higher number
of incidents during winter months, prima-
rily between December and March and no
reports during monsoon, between July and
September.
Fishing cats in Bangladesh are severely
threatened by direct mortality caused by
humans. Fishing cats occur in all the divisi-
ons of Bangladesh (Fig. 4). About 50% of the
total national land comprises wetlands that
include rivers, estuaries, mangrove swamps,
seasonal freshwater marshes (haor), oxbow
lakes (baor), lake-like wetlands (beels), wa-
ter storage reservoirs, fishponds, and other
areas of land with seasonal inundation
(Akonda 1989, Khan et al. 1994). Between
2010 and 2013, only one fishing cat was re-
ported from the dry area of Rangpur division
in the far north of Bangladesh. 17 reports
were from Sylhet division and 14 reports
were from Khulna and Dhaka divisions; these
divisions consist of permanent and seasonal
wetlands. It is probable that the most secure
population of the fishing cat in Bangladesh
occurs in the Sundarbans since there are no
reports of human-fishing cat conflicts from
this protected area.
We suspect that the human-fishing cat
conflicts have primarily occurred due to the
degradation of wetland habitat and human
encroachments. Shrinking habitat and food
shortage has possibly driven these cats to
move into human settlements, which compel
the local community to react and kill fishing
cats. However, during an annual hunting fe-
stival by the Santals, three fishing cats and
three jungle cats were killed on the 24th of
February 2012 in Khoksa upazila, Kushtia by
a group of 15 men of the tribal community.
Santal’s principal home in Bangladesh is in
Rajshahi division but during the hunting fe-
stival some members migrate to different
parts of Bangladesh for a week (possibly
in February) to hunt wildlife (Banglapedia
2006). In several of the fishing cat news
articles, reporters mentioned additional inci-
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Fig. 1. Pooled yearly variation in number of fishing cat reports in the media sorted by
month between January 2010 and March 2013 in Bangladesh.
Fig. 2. Fishing cat photographed at Baikka Beel, Sreemangal March 2011 (Photo S. U.
Chowdhury).
CATnews 62 Spring 2015
06
Chowdhury et al.
dences but due to the absence of evidence
we considered these reports inconclusive
and did not include these in our results. For
instance, 12 fishing cats were captured and
released by Bangladesh Forest Department
in 2012 from different villages of Gangni
sub-district of Khula division, and 22 fishing
cats were killed in different sub-districts of
Jhenaidah, of which seven deaths were in
Kotchandpur, five were in Shoilkopa upazila,
four in Kaliganj, three in Horinakunjo, and
three in the town of Jhenaidah.
Rescue, release and unknown status
A total of 13 fishing cats including kittens
were rescued from Moulovibazar district and
all of them were released in Lawachara Na-
tional Park by Bangladesh Forest Department
(T. Khan pers. comm.). This 1,250 ha tropical
semi-evergreen forest may not be the ideal
habitat for fishing cats since they are stron-
gly associated with wetlands (IPAC 2012,
Mukherjee et al. 2010). Translocation of wild
animals back into suitable habitat is a com-
plicated activity requiring considerable plan-
ning (Letty et al. 2000). The reason behind
not releasing the rescued fishing cats in the
wetlands from where they were originally
captured is unclear. We presume that the re-
lease of these cats in potentially unsuitable
habitat by the authorities is due to the lack of
knowledge on the ecology of the fishing cat.
These releases in areas away from capture
sites could result in the death of the released
animals (Letty et al. 2000).
Conservation implications
We observed a notable increase in fishing
cat incidences from 2010 to 2012; this could
also suggest an increase in human-fishing
cat conflicts, jeopardizing the future of the
fishing cat in Bangladesh. Moreover, sin-
ce many incidences are likely to have gone
unnoticed and unreported, the decline in fi-
shing cat numbers due to human-fishing cat
conflict could probably be a lot higher than
our results indicate.
Nearly 45% of the national wetlands of
Bangladesh have been converted and the
remaining ones are undergoing considerable
degradation due to intensifying anthropoge-
nic influences (Islam 2010). Human-fishing
cat conflicts are most likely to be correlated
with habitat loss and an increase in anthro-
pogenic developments; both of which se-
verely threaten the survival of fishing cats
in Bangladesh. Therefore, urgent measures
are needed to protect fishing cats and their
habitat in Bangladesh.
First, we recommend surveys to identify
sizeable populations of fishing cats inside
and outside protected areas throughout
Bangladesh. Second, large-scale education
programs are needed to target local commu-
nities in promoting their knowledge about
the ecology and global significance of the
fishing cat and its wetland habitat.
Third, mechanisms by which villagers living
near wetlands can help reduce the risk of
possible conflicts with fishing cats and ena-
ble villagers to report fishing cat occurrence
to wildlife authorities and local conservatio-
nists to take necessary actions is much nee-
ded. For example, reducing depredation of
poultry by setting up better husbandry prac-
tices or relocating fishing cats to other sites
from conflict areas could be direct communi-
ty-managed conservation interventions.
In addition, incorporating training in wildlife
ecology and management practices, such as
systematic and prompt rescue and release
operations can improve the management of
Fig. 4. Distribution of fishing cat in Bangladesh based on media reports between
January 2010 and March 2013.
Fig. 3. Fishing cats killed by indigenous
hunters in Khoksa upazila, February 2012
(Photo The Daily Star).
CATnews 62 Spring 2015
07
human-fishing cat conflicts
the fishing cat in Bangladesh. For better co-
existence among humans and fishing cats,
conservation authorities such as Bangla-
desh Forest Department need to be proac-
tive in controlling direct threats to fishing
cats such as retaliatory killing. Finally, due
to the dearth of information on the ecology
of the fishing cat (Nowell & Jackson 1996),
Bangladesh’s wetlands can be ideal to con-
duct short and long-term ecological studies
on this species.
Acknowledgements
We are grateful to Tania Khan and few anonymous
contributors for sharing detailed information on
the fishing cat incidences in Moulovibazar. We
are thankful to M. Abdullah Abu Diyan for creating
the map. We also thank North South University for
permitting access to the library.
References
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(Ed). A directory of Asian wetlands. IUCN,
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Dugan P. 1993. Wetlands in danger: conservation
atlas. Mitchell Beazley and IUCN, London, UK.
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tected Areas. <www.nishorog.org>.
Islam M. A., Ameen M. & Nishat A. (Eds). 2000.
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desh. IUCN, Dhaka.
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hid S. M. A. & Ahmed H. 1994. Wetlands of
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lisch R., Khan J., Wilting A., Sunarto S. & Ho-
ward J.G. 2010. Prionailurus viverrinus. In IUCN
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Version 2012.2.<www.iucnredlist.org>.
Mukherjee S., Adhya T., Thatte P. & Ramakrishnan
U. 2012. Survey of the Fishing Cat Prionailurus
viverrinus Bennett, 1833 (Carnivora: Felidae)
and some aspects impacting its conserva-
tion in India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 4,
3355–3361.
Nowell K. & Jackson P. (Eds).1996. Wild Cats,
Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan.
IUCN, Gland Switzerland.
Siddiqui K. U., Islam M. A., Kabir S. M. H., Ahmed
A. T. A., Rahman A. K. A., Haque E. U., Ahmed
Z. U., Begum Z. N. T., Hassan M. A., Khondker
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Supporting Online Material SOM Figures F1-F3 are
available at www.catsg.org
1 Department of Geography, University of Cam-
bridge, Downing Place, Cambridge, CB2 3EN, UK
<sayam_uc@yahoo.com>
2 Department of Environmental Science and
Management, North South University, Plot 15,
Block-B, Bashundhara, Dhaka 1229.
3 Department of Biology, UAE University, PO Box
17551, Al Ain, UAE.
ASHWIN NAIDU1,2, MURTHY KANTIMAHANTI3, N. PRADEEP KUMAR1, KYLE THOMPSON1,2,
S. S. SREEDHAR4 AND APPA RAO5
Recent records of fishing cat
and its conservation in coastal
South India
In coastal South India, the first published records of confirmed evidence-based ob-
servations 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 seve-
ral 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.
The fishing cat occurs in fragmented popu-
lations throughout its range in South and
Southeast Asia, and has been globally listed
as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since
2008. Wetlands throughout the known range
of the fishing cat face threats such as ha-
bitat degradation, pollution, and significant
reductions in area due to aquaculture and
agriculture (Mukherjee et al. 2010). Additi-
onally, fishing cats face direct threats from
humans due to retaliatory killing against live-
stock depredation (e.g. Cutter 2009, Adhya
2011). In India, it has been known that fishing
cats mainly occur in the mangrove forests of
the Sundarbans, and sparsely in wetlands
along the Ganga and the Brahmaputra River
tributaries. They also occur around other
well-known wetlands such as the Keoladeo
National Park in northwestern India and the
Chilika Lake in Orissa (Acharjyo & Misra
1974, Mukherjee et al. 2012, Aniruddha 2014,
see also: www.fishing-cat.wild-cat.org/). The
fishing cat is listed as a Schedule I species
in the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
On the east coast of South India, only a few
intact small populations of fishing cats are
known to occur, supported by a few recent re-
cords (Kolipaka 2006, Mukherjee et al. 2012,
Sankar 2014), and these populations are sub-
ject to severe threats due to habitat loss by
aquaculture, persecution and poaching by
humans for their meat (based on interviews
with local communities by M. Kantimahanti,
P. Sathiyaselvam, and A. Rao, pers. comm.).
A recent survey effort presented a case for
the potential extirpation of fishing cats on the
west coast of South India (Janardhanan et
al. 2014). Given the endangerment of fishing
cats, it is imperative that surveys are imple-
mented to document their occurrence throug-
... Often, some cats also crossed over to other neighbouring properties without experiencing direct or indirect human-caused fatalities (except for two). While the black-footed cat is a protected species across most of its range (Sliwa et al., 2016), as observed in guignas (Leopardus guigna; Sanderson et al., 2002) and fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus; Chowdhury et al., 2015), legal protection does not necessarily prevent persecution and illegal killings as retaliation for depredation of small livestock. The low number of human-caused deaths in this study may therefore indicate a low human-predator conflict when involving black-footed cats and a high tolerance level towards the species in the region. ...
... Causes of mortality may change over time depending on several factors, such as increased human development, critical habitat loss, or improved species awareness (Chowdhury et al., 2015;Marker et al., 2003). This dataset on the causes of mortality in black-footed cats highlights the importance of long-term studies and complete post-mortem examination with histology for a better understanding of a species' ecology and will also provide a baseline for future comparisons. ...
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... Our survey also encountered indirect signs like pugmarks of fishing cats, otters, and jackals from those human habituations. Carnivores existing in human-dominated landscapes are always considered as threats to people, livestock, or pets and may often get killed (Carter et al. 2012;Chowdhury et al. 2015;Li et al. 2019). Numerous populations of threatened mammals occur in humanmodified landscapes, and their endurance relies on the readiness of communities to coexist together with them (Kansky et al. 2014). ...
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Extrapolation of spatio-temporal association in the guild of vulnerable wetland species like the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus Bennet, 1833) can inform strategies for conservation action. Camera trap study was conducted at Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWLS) and the adjoined mangroves located in the East Godavari River Estuarine system (EGREE) which harbours the second largest population of fishing cats in India. The study recorded fishing cats (n = 495), jackals (n = 472), rhesus macaques (n = 186), smooth-coated otters (n = 24), jungle cats (n = 13), mongooses (n = 3), rodents (n = 49), birds (n = 62), and humans (n = 793). A predominant nocturnal activity was observed for the fishing cat and jungle cat, while the jackal showed bimodal activity. The fishing cat showed a high temporal overlap with rodents and considerable spatio-temporal segregation towards human disturbances. The overall structure of spatio-temporal relations indicates segregation in the guild and maybe an effective strategy to avoid competition. The anthropogenic stress and the negative interactions lead to conflicts which are detrimental in sustaining a viable fishing cat population in EGREE. Our study accentuates this fact and substantiates that EGREE delta region is a benign fishing cat habitat if human disturbances are abridged.
... Global Ecology and Conservation 27 (2021) e01615 Based on participant interviews, the raiding of poultry, damage incurred to fishing gear, and depredation of fish from ponds, were the most frequent causes of human-fishing cat conflict that led to illegal retaliatory killings around KSRY. We note that these findings are consistent with those from other countries around fishing cat related conflict (Chowdhury et al., 2015;. Participants reported awareness of approaches known to prevent local poultry raiding, including strengthening hen house fences with nets and steel mesh, increasing surveillance of poultry, and using dogs as guards to deter fishing cats. ...
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Fishing cat populations appear to have declined significantly in recent years due to the loss and fragmentation of inland and coastal wetland habitats. Moreover, there are still large gaps in data on population and density estimates, and threat evaluation, which are vital for conservation assessments. This research aimed to help fill these critical knowledge gaps. Our study is the first density estimate for fishing cat from mainland Southeast Asia. We conducted a camera-trap survey and used a spatially-explicit capture-recapture analytical framework to estimate the abundance of fishing cats in and around Khao Sam Roi Yot area (KSRY), which hosts an isolated, threatened population of the felid in Thailand. We also conducted interviews among adjacent communities to better understand local perspectives toward fishing cats, conflict with local people, and as a consequence of both, anthropogenic threats to the population. Over 6966 trap-days, we identified at least 33 individual adult cats and based on our top model (g0 ~ bk, σ ~ h2), we estimated fishing cat density to be 18 ± SE 6 individuals/100 km² (95% CI 10 – 33). Among 80 interviewees, we recorded 25 incidents of conflict, most relating to raids on poultry (n = 18) and damage to fishing gear in pursuit of fish (n = 5). Land use type, land use change, and human activity, did not significantly affect fishing cat density and movements. Our findings further suggest that a proposed tax policy governing land use may force landowners to convert suitable fishing cat habitat to unsuitable areas, resulting in the loss of up to 30% of existing suitable habitat from our study area. We also found that local communities would support either an exemption for landowners not wishing to develop suitable fishing cat habitat, and/or an additional policies that incentivize the maintenance and/or preservation of areas suitable for fishing cats. Finally, we conclude that the official presence of park officers in communities beyond the protected area would be beneficial, as would the implementation of public outreach programming to mitigate negative attitudes toward fishing cats, and provide recommendations on strategies for coexisting with them.
... This systematic behavior of the forest cat created sympathy for the species by the locals. As a result, despite our widespread belief that terrestrial predators always clash with humans, our work has shown mutual cooperation between cats and local people (Inskip and Zimmermann, 2009;Chowdhury et al., 2015). Despite this conclusion, in order to avoid the need for human-induced harm to carnivore species in different areas, the priority of research should be focused on more humanwildlife conflict in urban areas and the human-wildlife relationship of wildlife management plans to which these species and people will be least affected. ...
Article
Identifying spatial and temporal patterns of human–carnivore encounters is crucial for predicting conflict hotspots. However, the degree of overlap between human and carnivore movements is likely to differ between stable environments and seasonally changing landscapes. We aimed to clarify key drivers of spatial and temporal overlap of humans and carnivores in a seasonally changing landscape using the case of human–fishing cat encounters in an inland wetland in north-eastern Bangladesh. To obtain encounter information, interview surveys were conducted with 210 respondents in 21 villages in 2020. Monthly rainfall and waterbody size were negatively correlated with the numbers of encounters in the wetland area, while there was no apparent temporal pattern in encounters reported in adjacent villages. Temporal patterns of encounters may be partially explained by human presence (in turn associated with local livelihoods). Except for fishing, intense livelihood activities take place in wetland areas mainly during the dry season. On the other hand, areas peripheral to the wetlands are used for various livelihood activities throughout the year. In a seasonally changing landscape, understanding people’s movements could help elucidate spatiotemporal patterns of human–fishing cat encounters at a micro-scale.
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Wetland conservation in the Indo-tropics can benefit from the protection of the charismatic Fishing Cat. India, supporting ∼40% of its known range, is a stronghold for the species. Here, using multiple information sources we outline a framework to safeguard fishing cats in India. Specifically, we a) estimated district-level Conservation priority scores (using presence records, and habitat suitability and habitat connectivity) to identify ecologically important habitats, b) estimated state-level Conservation likelihood scores assessing the success potential of any conservation intervention, c) collated district-level Conservation initiative information identifying ongoing efforts for species and/or habitat conservation. We consecutively assessed the spatial congruence between (a), (b) and (c) to delineate species’ conservation areas and corresponding action goals (blueprint). Using information on habitat suitability, we also delineated survey landscapes. Although Fishing Cat records were found in 12 Indian states, only a small proportion of the state area was identified harbouring optimal habitat for the species. Three broad habitat clusters - Terai arc, Eastern coast, and Brahmaputra floodplains - were identified, with overall high habitat connectivity. Most districts ranking high in Conservation priority scored low in Conservation likelihood. Districts with Fishing Cat presence (n=60) were delineated into four tiers of action landscapes and the majority of districts classified as survey landscapes (n=156) were found in the Terai arc. We use our results to recommend and discuss conservation actions for districts identified in our blueprint. Flagship species conservation approach has substantial potential to enrich wetland conservation, for which our blueprint can act as a baseline.
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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.
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Wetlands constitute a part of human heritage. It has played a significant role in the development of human culture and society. More over it contains very rich components of biodiversity of local, national, and regional significance. They also provide habitat for a variety of resident and migratory waterfowl, a significant number of endangered species, and a large number of commercially important species. Mangrove wetlands are unique environments of floral-faunal assemblages, providing a complex detritus-based food-web for a number of marine and brackish water organisms. Wetlands in Bangladesh have great importance for the country's economic, industrial, ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural aspects. There are five types of wetlands available in Bangladesh, such as saltwater wetlands, freshwater wetlands, palustrine wetlands, lacustrine wetlands, and manmade wetlands. There are 43 designated wetlands, and some are under threat from indiscriminate utilization, encroachments and reclamation, urbanization and drawbacks from agricultural development, and flood control. Almost 50% of the country's people are directly dependent on wetlands resources. The vast majority of the poor people in the wetlands areas are dependent on wetlands resources for their nourishment. Wetlands have potential and have been recognized as a driving force for biodiversity conservation and rural socioeconomic improvement. Smart-use of wetlands can solve the ecosystems problems in the floodplain areas. A comprehensive analysis of the various issues leading to wetlands degradation is made in this study. The country needs an adequate interdisciplinary policy and political will to implement it for sustainable management and protection of wetlands and ecologically sensitive ecosystems in Bangladesh. Therefore, a reliable data bank is provided in this study to enhance the conservation measures initiated by the Government. © 2010 Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
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