Establishing Priority Conservation Areas for Fishing Cat in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal

Fishing Cat is a medium-sized wild cat of the wetlands of South and Southeast Asia. Due to the rapid population decline over the last three generations (18 years) of Fishing Cat, since 2008, the species is listed as “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List and in Appendix II of CITES.

The Fishing Cat is primarily distributed in wetland habitats, which are increasingly being settled, degraded and threatened by commercial fish farming, conversion into agricultural and other landforms. Populations of the Fishing Cat are declining throughout the species’ range. To date, no scientific study has been carried out to determine its status, distribution and conservation status in Nepal. Himalayan Nature has established a first research in Nepal that aimed to determine the population abundance and distribution of the Fishing Cat in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR), using camera traps, sign surveys and questionnaire surveys.

Additionally we conducted programs for the conservation of this species through the interactive education and awareness raising among the local peoples and fisherman around Fishing Cat habitat.

Some concrete evidences of Fishing Cat have been found from the study. Nine unique individuals of Fishing Cat and seven other mammalian species were photographed in camera traps.

Socio-economic status of the local people was very poor and about 76% of respondent have seen Fishing Cat.

Wetland destruction, hunting of Fishing Cat for food and fur trade, conflict between the species and local people, puttng live wires around the fishponds, changing agricultural practices,  and increased use of pesticides in agricultural fields were identified as prominent  threats to the species.

This study helped to change the people's negative perception toward Fishing Cat. Our conservation program reached among 600 local people, particularly fish farmers, cattle herders and community forest users groups.