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). This is the world’s first population estimation of the fishing cat done outside the protected area network.
About the fishing cat –
- About twice the size of a typical house cat, the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is a feline known to even dive to catch fish. Wetlands are the favourite habitats of the fishing cat.
- They are found in 10 Asian countries but have stayed undetected in Vietnam and Java since the last decade or so.
- In India, fishing cats are mainly found in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, on the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river valleys and in the Western Ghats.
- The globally threatened cats are found in wetlands in major South and Southeast Asian river basins starting from the Indus in Pakistan till the Mekong in Vietnam and in Sri Lanka and Java.
- The fishing cat is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists the fishing cat on Appendix II part of Article IV of CITES. In India, the fishing cat is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
About ‘Chilika Lake’ –
- It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon (largest in Asia) in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
- It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian subcontinent.
- It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for at least part of their life cycle.
- Chilika was designated as the 1st Ramsar Site of India in 1981.
- The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary.
- Chilika Lagoon lies in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha State along the eastern coast of India.
- Kalijai Temple is located on an island in the Chilika Lake.