The Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) is the world’s longest running research and conservation project on fishing cat and has been functional since 2010. It is currently functioning in two states of India – West Bengal and Odisha. In 2012, the fishing cat was declared as the State Animal of West Bengal and over the years, TFCP’s pluralistic approach to conservation has led to wider acceptance and interest of fishing cat in Bengal. This includes more enthusiastic public support in fishing cat conservation and better implementation of laws to safeguard the species and its habitat. Future plans in Bengal include:
- Projects to address negative interactions between fisherman and fishing cat and.
- Scaling up the ‘eyes-and-ears’ program for more widespread vigilance on fishing cat, anticipating threats and acting in time to diffuse them.
- Highlight the felid as flagship for wetlands outside protected areas.
Since 2017, TFCP has also been working in Odisha in collaboration with Odisha Forest Department and Chilika Development Authority (the guardian government body looking after the health and well-being of Chilika). In 2020, fishing cat was declared as ambassador for Chilika.
In 2021, TFCP will aid in regularising a population estimation protocol of fishing cat in Chilika – a RAMSAR Site and Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon. This will subsequently be taken up and internalised by the government. Future plans include:
- Creating a fishing cat conservation network in Odisha with multiple stakeholders including local residents, students, researchers, non-government and government organisations.
- Creating an adaptive manage strategy by involving indigenous fisherfolk communities and relevant government departments for better habitat management within a socio-ecological framework.
- Prioritising fishing cat conservation in Odisha.
Project initiated: 2010
Current status: Ongoing
Co-Founder / Primary Investigator: Tiasa Adhya
Tiasa is a Wildlife Conservation Network 2018 Scholar and is currently pursuing her Masters by Research from The University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bangalore, India. She is an accomplished conservationist winning the highest civilian award for women in India from the president in recognition of her work and on behalf of her team. She has also won several other awards including Wildlife Service Award from Sanctuary Nature Foundation, Women Heroes Award from Times of India and is an Earth Day Network star.