Fishing Cats: Is Bengal Doing Enough To Protect Its State Animal?


At least three fishing cats were discovered dead on the 20th of January in Bagnan, West Bengal's Howrah district, according to conservationist Chitrak Pramanik. Pramanik arrived on the scene and discovered that they had been murdered a few days before. The carcasses were thrown near a paddy field, and the cats' legs were roped together. They were all ladies, according to Pramani.

Conservationists working to conserve West Bengal's state animals were shocked by the killings. Fishing cats have been murdered in the state before, according to Pramanik, and their remains have been discovered on highways after being run over by speeding automobiles. However, this is the first time they have discovered three animals who have been slaughtered and their remains abandoned.

The state forest agency launched an investigation and discovered that area people Pratap Patra and Prabhas Patra were involved. Their homes were searched, but both of them fled. They have an arrest warrant out for them, and the cops are on the lookout for them.

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Fishing cats were designated as state animals in 2009. It is also protected as a Schedule I species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, giving it the same level of security as elephants, lions and tigers.

Tiasa Adhya of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Survival Of the species Commission, which has been studying the cats for more than a decade, imagined the uproar of three lions or tigers were slain. However, except for a few local NGOs, environmentalists, and researchers striving to rescue these smaller cats, there has been very little coordinated attempt to safeguard the state animal.

As per a study undertaken by The Fishing Cat Project as the portion of a WWF grant, at least 27 cases of deceased fishing cats have been reported from Howrah and Hooghly alone. The majority of the cases involved revenge killings.

As per a study issued in CAT news, the IUCN-SSC Cat Expert Group's biannual newsletter, 11 similar instances were observed between January 2019 and February 2021. People in the village of Howrah's Shyampur reportedly skinned and marketed a murdered fishing cat for flesh in February 2020.

The fishing cat is about twice as large as a conventional house cat and lives in marshes and marshy areas, where it preys on fish. Fishing cats are mostly found in the mangroves of Sundarbans, the Himalayan foothills along the Brahmaputra and Ganga river valleys, and the eastern coast up to Andhra Pradesh.

Since cats in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are safeguarded, a large number of fishing cats in marshland and wetlands exterior of the reserves throughout the Ganga's floodplains is fragile and under attack.

Because the fisher cat is categorised as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, specialists want the administration to take a more aggressive role in protecting and conserving it and its environment.

The animal is safeguarded, but its environment is not, according to Debal Deb, West Bengal's chief wildlife conservator. We do not have such rules in India, unlike the United States, where law prohibits altering the ecology of land with endangered species. The elimination of the fishing cat's habitat is the primary cause of population reduction. Certain species, like the wolf, leopard, fishing cat and elephant, reside in places where human habitat overlaps, putting them at risk.