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Fishing Cat in Bhitarkanika!

Bhubaneswar:A rare variety of Fishing Cat has been located in Bhitarkanika National Park, thanks to an initiative of Odisha Biodiversity Board.

It is known that the Fishing Cat is included in the Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Swarup Kumar, a young researcher of Odisha Biodiversity Board has found out the Fishing cat after he fixed a camera trap inside the Bhitarkanika Natonal Park and the vulnerable specie was sighted on 15 February.

Reports say that a Marbled Cat was last sighted in Phulbani forests in 1956.

Similarly, ‘The Statesman’, Calcutta of 18 April 1962, reported the occurrence of caracal in Mayurbhanj district.

Thereafter their existence has not been reported in the state. At present only six species of wild cats are reported to occur in Odisha, Researchers say.

Out of fifteen living species of wild cats found in India, eight species were known to occur in Odisha.

These are Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Fishing Cat (Prionailurusviverrinus), Rusty-Spotted Cat (Prionailurusrubiginosus), Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) and Caracal (Caracal caracal).

In fact Bhitarkanika National Park houses wild animals including Fishing cats.

Rajiv Kumar, Chairman Odisha Biodiversity Board asked the researchers to go for such a study in Bhitarkanika National Park.

Under this backdrop, Odisha Biodiversity Board (OBB) has initiated a Research Project on fishing cat in Bhitarkanika National Park the only notified National Park of Odisha.

The fishing cat is a medium sized cat that is widely but erratically distributed across the Odisha State and is strongly associated with wetlands.

It is among the six felid species that presently inhabit Odisha and like other smaller cat species its status is very poorly understood.

Apart from few recent surveys in specific locations, no intensive effort has been undertaken to assess its current distribution and threats to its persistence within Odisha.

The present study has been focused on distribution status and abundance of fishing cat in their natural habitats like Bhitarkanika National Park through camera trap exercise.

The camera trap is an important and appropriate conservation tool to study the animal behavior also, said a Researcher of OBB.

OBB has decided to go for more research projects in the state as Odisha is rich in Biodiversity, said a senior official of the Board.