Eurasian otter found in Chilika Lake

Researchers also find fishing cat, another otter species

Published - March 02, 2020 01:34 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Eurasian otter

Eurasian otter

Researchers conducting a study in Odisha’s Chilika Lake have found the presence of a viable, breeding population of a fishing cat in the brackish water lagoon. It is a globally endangered species that is elusive and found in very few places in south and south-east Asia.

Extant species

Wild cat species usually hunt on ground. But the fishing cat hunts in water. It has specialised features like partially webbed feet and water-resistant fur that helps it to thrive in wetlands. The flat-headed cat of south-east Asia is the only other feline that shares similar features. This makes them unique among all 39 extant cat species.

Another globally endangered species, smooth-coated otter, has also been recorded from the study’s data.

Both the species are supposed to enjoy conservation measures of the highest accord in India according to the country’s laws, much like the tiger and elephant.

The study has also recorded presence of Eurasian otter in Chilika. “This is significant. Despite being a widely-spread and common species globally, very little is known of the species distribution and abundance in India and especially along the eastern coast,” said Nisarg Prakash of IUCN Otter Specialist Group.

“We undertook the survey in the fringe villages of Chilika covering an area of 1,070 sq km. Here we conducted more than 1,000 interviews and placed camera traps for more than 300 nights,” said Tiasa Adhya, co-founder of The Fishing Cat Project.

The project was a collaborative effort between The Fishing Cat Project, Chilika Development Authority, Wild Orissa, Mahavir Pakshi Suraksha Samity and Chilika Wildlife Division, Forest Department of Odisha.

CDA will further step up science and conservation efforts by initiating a census on fishing cats this year in collaboration with TFCP, said Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority.

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