WII Dehradun scientists begin India’s first fishing cat collar project in Coringa next week

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The three-year project begins next week to jibe 10 fish cats to study the species’ behavior and threats.

Conservation biologists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII-Dehradun) will begin catching ten fish cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) at the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in Andhra Pradesh next week.

The country’s first fishing cat collar project is being carried out by conservation biologist Dr. Bilal Habib, WII-Dehradun. In Asia, a similar project was previously carried out in Bangladesh.

The project was supposed to start last year but was delayed due to the spread of COVID-19.

The Andhra Pradesh State Forestry Ministry has already released ₹ .45 lakh funded by the Vedanta Group for the project.

The total cost of the project is ₹ 75 lakh. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had approved the fishing and jibing of the fishing cat.

Chief Investigator Dr. Bilal Habib said The Hindu by phone on Wednesday; “Our research team will start the Fishing Cat collar project at the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary next week. The project starts with the estimation (counting) of the fish cat in the sanctuary before the fish cats are selected for the collar ”.

Survival strategy

“The Collar Project is concerned with estimating the Fishing Cat, the Collar, and studying how wildlife survives in the sanctuary,” added Dr. Bilal Habib added. The three-year project also examines habitat, eating habits, threats and movements.

The census was conducted in 2018 and 115 fish cats were recorded. A significant portion of Coringa’s mangrove ecosystem has recently been disrupted by the thriving production of ID liquor in the Godavari Estuary. The state government recently excavated the ID liquor production units in the Coringa mangrove ceiling.

However, no scientific study has been conducted on the effects of ID liquor activity on wildlife, particularly the fish cat. The sanctuary extends over 235.7 square kilometers. In October, an area of ​​177 square kilometers around the protected area was declared an ecological zone.

Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife-Rajamundry) C. Selvam told The Hindu that the collars to be used in the project are imported from abroad. A senior official previously linked to the project said the research would provide more scientific evidence on the species in order to set up a national fish cat breeding center.

Despite various threats to its ecology, the sanctuary is still struggling to be declared a “Ramsar Convention Site”.


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