Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)

How many cats do you know that like water? Not many I bet. But the spotted Fishing Cat happens to be an exception to the rule. This furry feline is a great swimmer and dives head first into water to grab fish with its mouth. It can also scoop fish out of the water with its paws, and if fish aren’t available it will eat other tasty treats like frogs, crustaceans, snakes and birds.

You can find Fishing Cats living in scattered areas across India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Thailand and Viet Nam, in wetland areas including swamps and marshy areas, lakes, reed beds, tidal creeks and mangrove areas.

Fishing cats are an endangered species, and their population is getting smaller. They were once found in Pakistan but are now thought to be extinct there, and in other places they haven’t been seen in a few years. Over 50% of Asia’s wetlands have been destroyed or are under threat from human settlement and unsustainable farming. And as the wetlands have shrunk, so has the spaces for Fishing Cats to live in.

This isn’t the only problem they face – over-fishing by humans has made it harder for the Cats to find food to feed themselves and their young further reducing their chances of survival.

What can you do?

Fishing Cats need wetland habitat to live in. As the wetlands of Asia are slowly disappearing - so are the cats. You can help to preserve Sri Lanka’s wetlands by visiting our protected parks and keeping our wetland areas in unspoiled condition. You wouldn’t throw rubbish on the floor in your house, so don’t throw rubbish on the floor of a Fishing Cat’s home. Remember – when you visit our beautiful and natural lands, “take only photos and leave only footprints”.

» Find out how else you can help to protect Sri Lanka's endangered species

Illustration by Asia Hewapathirana

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