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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Bengal govt to launch survey on state animal fishing cat soon

The survey will try to find out the fishing cat population in the state and suggest steps to preserve them. Rapid urbanisation is posing a threat to these animals.

kolkata Updated: Nov 14, 2017 15:42 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Fishing cats live on fish they catch from ponds and water bodies.
Fishing cats live on fish they catch from ponds and water bodies.(Photo courtesy: NEWS)

The West Bengal government, for the first time, has decided to conduct a survey on fishing cats, the state animal of Bengal. The study comes against the backdrop of caution issued by biodiversity experts that the state animal of Bengal is becoming endangered due to rapid urbanisation.

Ashok Kanti Sanyal, chairman of West Bengal Biodiversity Board, the lead agency to conduct the survey said that the survey will start from end November.

Read: Amta residents to raise goats to save fishing cats from extinction

The fishing cat was notified as the state animal of Bengal in 2012. They are slightly bigger in size than the common cats used as domestics pets.

“West Bengal Biodiversity Board will conduct the research in association with Zoological Survey of India, Zoology department of Calcutta University and an NGO NEWS,” Sanyal told HT.

The survey will be conducted over a period of two years. A census of the fishing cat population will be conducted in Bengal.

Read: Tiger population swells but tigers still under attack

“Fishing cats live on fish they catch from ponds or water bodies. But because of quick urbanisation, water bodies are being filled up fast, and therefore, these animals are displaced due to lack of food. The census will give us a clear idea about the threats the species is facing,” explained Sanyal. He said camera traps will be used to conduct the census.

The second part of the survey will consist in identifying the areas where these cats are mainly found. “These cats are mainly found in districts such as Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur. “They survey will also try to identify whether they are found in other districts where their presence may be in fewer number,” Sanyal said.

The survey will also try to suggest steps to eradicate threats. A public awareness campaign to educate the people about the need to preserve this species will also be undertaken.

“There needs to be a detailed study on fishing cats, not just because it is a state animal, but also because their extinction can have an effect on the ecosystem,” said Ajanta Dey, secretary of NEWS.

The Union government issues notifications on a state animal after receiving suggestions from the government in the state.

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 15:42 IST

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