Rapid habitat destruction and killings are threatening the future of the fishing cat, an animal that’s twice the size of a typical domestic cat. The state animal of West Bengal has seen a massive 44% destruction of its habitat in the last two decades.
“The fishing cat, Bengal’s state animal once common in the wetlands of Howrah and Hooghly, is staring at an uncertain future due to rapid habitat destruction for agricultural activities and industries. A recent study revealed the animal, declared ‘endangered’ in the IUCN red list, may have become locally extinct in Hooghly.
“A study conducted by a city-based wildlife biologist between January and June 2014 over more than 1,400sqkm in Howrah also said that some of the last remaining patches of ideal fishing cat habitat here are speedily shrinking.
“In Howrah alone, there was a 44% decline of marsh and grassland in the last two decades,” said wildlife biologist Tiasa Adhya, who conducted the study on habitat use and diet of fishing and jungle cats in the human-dominated Howrah landscape.
“There were reports of 27 fishing cat killings in 16 months from the same study site — Shyampur, Bugnan, Amta, Bali, Domjur and Dankuni — due to conflict with locals.”