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West Bengal to go all out to preserve fishing cat, the State animal

The West Bengal Government will start a conservation breeding programme for the fishing cat, the State animal, for its protection (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@BengalSafari)

Garchumuk Zoological Garden in Kolkata’s Howrah has started an important programme to protect and preserve the fishing cat, a vulnerable species. This cat is West Bengal’s State animal and is called Baghrol in Bangla.

This was announced by Jyotipriya Mallick, the State Forest Minister.

Apart from GZG this project will be carried out in other places like Bankura and Jhargram in the State’s southern area as well as some regions in the north and if it is successful, the animal will be released in their natural habitat by 2024. According to an official of the West Bengal Zoo Authority, a total of six to eight pairs of fishing cats will be released in their wild.

To prevent the complete collapse of a species population in the wild, conservation breeding programmes are run. The reason for the disappearance of the species could be industrialisation, poaching, climate change, poaching, loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation. Through the programme the genetic diversity of the species is conserved and they are slowly reintroduced to re-establish a self-sustaining population in the natural wild habitat.

To ensure the success of the programme, a study is underway to locate suitable places where the animals born in captivity could be released. The study will find out whether the inhabitants of the place where the cats will be released and around it, are friendly to allow these creatures to survive and thrive.

The objective of the study is to ensure that there is minimum human interference.

To begin with Jharkhali in the Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district has been selected for releasing the fishing cats bred in captivity. This was based on the study of the place. Likewise, studies have been conducted in Hooghly, Howrah, Paschim Bardhaman and Purba also.

Some of the captive-bred animals will be moved to the Bengal Safari Zoo in Siliguri.

The fishing cat is a medium-sized wildcat which native to the Indian subcontinent and parts of south-east Asia and it survives in wet and watery conditions.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorised fishing cats as vulnerable – that is they face a high risk of extinction due to rapid decline in their population.

Also read: Indian researchers reveal the hunting secrets of the elusive fishing cat