World’s first fishing cat survey in India: Chilika Lake in Odisha home to 176 fishing cats


Fishing Cat in India: World’s first fishing cat survey which took place at the Chilika Lake in Odisha has provided the world’s first population estimation of the fishing cat. The world’s first survey which was conducted outside the protected area by the Chilika Development Authority in collaboration with The Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) has found that the lake has 176 fishing cats.

The survey is the world’s longest-running research and conservation project on fishing cats taking place in Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon in Odisha. The survey on fishing cats in India started in 2010 and is currently underway in two states- Odisha and West Bengal.

World’s first fishing cat survey in India: Key Details

1. The world’s longest-running survey on fishing cats started back in 2010 by the Chilika Development Authority in collaboration with The Fishing Cat Project.

2. The census by The Fishing Cat project was conducted in two phases. In 2021, for the first phase, surveyors focused on the 115 sq. km marshland in the north and north eastern section of Chilika Lake.

3. The second phase of the fishing cat survey conducted in 2022 on the Parikud Side along the coastal part.

4. As per the Chilika Development Authority, 10 cameras were installed for the two phases, with each of them fixed in the field for 30 days.

5. Local fishermen and villagers from Chilika were the major participants in The Fishing Cat Project.

6. A total of 176 fishing cats have been found in Chilika Lake in India.

Fishing Cat State Animal

Fishing Cats were declared the State animal by West Bengal in 2012 and the Chilika authorities announced in 2020 that the fishing cat was the lake’s ambassador.

Fishing Cat IUCN Status 2022

As per the Chilika Development Authority, fishing cats are endangered worldwide. Within their range of countries, they are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Fishing Cats, unlike most felines, enjoy being around water and are noted for their exceptional hunting abilities in watery environments.

Fishing Cat is a schedule I species and deserves conservation measures of the highest accord in India like the Tiger and Elephant. Unfortunately, marshland and mangrove ecosystems, which are fishing cats habitats are decline.

Fishing Cats: Where are they found?

Fishing Cats are found in the wetlands and the flooded forests in major South and Southeast Asian river basins such as the Mekong in Vietnam, Indus in Pakistan, and in Sri Lanka and Java. However, the species has remained undetected in Java and Vietnam for a decade.

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