Wildlife Conservation Efforts

World’s first Fishing Cat Census done in Chilika

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fishing Cats

Mains level : Not Much

The Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, has 176 fishing cats, according to a census done by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) in collaboration with the Fishing Cat Project (TFCP).

About Fishing Cats

  • About twice the size of a typical house cat, the fishing cat is a feline with a powerful build and stocky legs.
  • It is an adept swimmer and enters water frequently to prey on fish as its name suggests.
  • It is known to even dive to catch fish.
  • It is nocturnal and apart from fish also preys on frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, and scavenges on carcasses of larger animals.
  • It is capable of breeding all year round but in India its peak breeding season is known to be between March and May.

Conservation status

  • IUCN Red List: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I

Various threats

  • One of the major threats facing the fishing cat is the destruction of wetlands, which is its preferred habitat.
  • As a result of human settlement, drainage for agriculture, pollution, and wood-cutting most of the wetlands in India are under threat of destruction.
  • Another threat to the fishing cat is the depletion of its main prey-fish due to unsustainable fishing practices.
  • It is also occasionally poached for its skin.

Back2Basics: Chilika Lake

  • Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha.
  • It is located at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 km2.
  • It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the largest brackish water lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef.
  • It has been listed Ramsar Site as well as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its formation

  • The process of the formation of the Chilika might have begun in the latter part of the Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago.
  • India’s peninsular river Mahanadi carried a heavy load of silt and dumped part of it at its delta.
  • As the sediment-laden river met the Bay of Bengal, sand bars were formed near its mouth.
  • These created a backflow of the seawater into the sluggish fresh water at the estuary, resulting in the huge brackish water lake.
  • Marine archaeological studies on the Odisha coast clearly show that the Chilika once acted as a safe harbor for cargo ships bound for Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

 

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