Population status and threats to fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Eastern Nepal

  • Rama Mishra Department of Biology, Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Birendra Gautam National Trust for Nature Conservation, Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Nepal
  • Prativa Kaspal Bhaktapur Multiple Campus, Bhaktapur, Nepal
  • Shyam Kumar Shah Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal
Keywords: Buffer zone; Camera trapping; Pelage pattern; SECR framework; Wetlands

Abstract

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR) in eastern Terai of Nepal is believed to hold a relatively healthy population of vulnerable fishing cats but has remained unexplored. We conducted camera trapping and questionnaire survey in KTWR and its buffer zone in the winter of 2016 and 2017 to estimate the population status and threats to fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus. Camera trapping was conducted in 2016 on fish farms in the eastern buffer zone where we found a minimum of nine fishing cat individuals visiting the surveyed fish ponds. The frequency of their visits to fish ponds varied 0–5 (average 2) nights during seven active camera trap nights. A survey in the second year (2017) covered the entire reserve.  Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture models estimated a population of 20 fishing cats with density of 8.4/100 km2 in KTWR and the eastern buffer zone. We interviewed 50 fish farmers to understand the people’s perceptions towards fishing cats. More than 40% of the respondents reported fishing cats consuming fish from their farm. Retaliation and road kills were documented as major threats of fishing cats in the study area. The population of the fishing cat is found dependent partially on fish ponds, indicating the possibility of conflict with fish farmers. We recommend the detailed study on the movement of fishing cats between the reserve and fish farming area in the buffer zone.

References

Adámek, Z., Kortan, D., Lepic, P. and Andreji, J. 2003. Impacts of otter (Lutra lutra L.) predation on fishponds: A study of fish remains at ponds in the Czech Republic. Aquaculture International 11:389–396. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025787330366

Adhya, T., Dey, P., Das, U. and Hazra, P. 2011. Status survey of Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Howrah and Hooghley, West Bengal. Report Submitted to the Small Grants Programme, WWF India, New Delhi.

Allendorf, T. D., Gurung, B., Poudel, S., Dahal, S. and Thapa, S. 2020. Using community knowledge to identify potential hotspots of mammal diversity in southeastern Nepal. Biodiversity and Conservation 29:933–946. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-019-01919-0

Amin, R., Baral, H. S., Lamichhane, B. R., Poudyal, L. P., Lee, S., Jnawali, S. R., Acharya, K. P., Upadhyaya, G. P., Pandey, M. B., Shrestha, R., Joshi, D., Griffiths, J., Khatiwada, A. P. and Subedi, N. 2018. The status of Nepal’s mammals. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10:11361–11378. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3712.10.3.11361-11378

Chaudhary, S., Chettri, N., Uddin, K., Khatri, T. B., Dhakal, M., Bajracharya, B. and Ning, W. 2016. Implications of land cover change on ecosystems services and people’s dependency: A case study from the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Ecological Complexity 28:200–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecocom.2016.04.002

Chettri, N., Uddin, K., Chaudhary, S. and Sharma, E. 2013. Linking Spatio-temporal land cover change to biodiversity conservation in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Diversity 5:335–351. https://doi.org/10.3390/d5020335

Chowdhury, S. U., Chowdhury, A. R., Ahmed, S. and Muzaffar, S. B. 2015. Human-fishing cat conflicts and conservation needs of fishing cats in Bangladesh. Cat News 62:4–7.

Cutter, P. 2009. Camera trapping and conservation status assessment of fishing cats at Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, Thailand and surrounding areas. Occasional Report. Fishing Cat Research and Conservation Project, Thailand.

Cutter, P. 2015. Fishing cat ecology: food habits, home ranges, habitat use and mortality in a human-dominated landscape around Khao Sam Roi Yot, Peninsular Thailand. MSc Thesis, University of Minnesota, USA.

Dahal, S., Appel, A., Shrestha, S., Dahal, D. R. and Gurung, S. 2016. Re-assessing and identifying the conservation needs of fishing cat in Bankalwa, Sunsari, Nepal. Report submitted to Rufford Foundation, UK.

Dahal, S., Baral, S., Nepal, M., Neupane, K. R., Dahal, B. V. and Basnet, K. 2014. Status of fishing cat in Jagdishpur Reservoir and Ghodaghodi lake and assessment of threat. Report submitted to MBZ Species Conservation Fund. Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation, Kathmandu, Nepal.

DNPWC and DFSC. 2018. Status of tigers and prey in Nepal. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation & Department of Forests and Soil Conservation. Ministry of Forests and Environment, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Gopalaswamy, A. M., Royle, J. A., Hines, J. E., Singh, P., Jathanna, D., Kumar, N. S. and Karanth, K. U. 2012. Program SPACECAP: Software for estimating animal density using spatially explicit capture-recapture models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 3:1067–1072. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2041-210X.2012.00241.x

Heinen, J. T. and Leisure, B. 1993. A new look at the Himalayan fur trade. Oryx 27:231–238.

Jnawali, S. R., Baral, H. S., Lee, S., Acharya, K. P., Upadhyaya, G. P., Pandey, M., Shrestha, R., Joshi, D., Lamichhane, B. R., Griffiths, J., Khatiwada, A. P., Subedi, N. and Amin, R. 2011. The status of Nepal’s mammals: The National Red List Series. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Kolipaka, S. S., Srivastava, D. P., Prasad, S. and Rust, N. A. 2019. Fishing cat conservation in human-dominated landscapes in West Bengal, India. Cat News 69:21–24.

Lamichhane, B. R., Leirs, H., Persoon, G. A., Subedi, N., Dhakal, M., Oli, B. N., Reynaert, S., Sluydts, V., Pokheral, C. P. and Poudyal, L. P. 2019. Factors associated with co-occurrence of large carnivores in a human-dominated landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation 28:1473–1491. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-019-01737-4

Mishra, R. 2013. Conservation status of fishing cat in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. MSc Thesis, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Mishra, R. 2016. Conservation status of the Fishing Cat in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. In A. Appel & J. W. Duckworth (Eds.), First International Fishing Cat Conservation Symposium, November, 2015 (pp. 25–26). Fishing Cat Working Group.

Mishra, R., Basnet, K., Amin, R., & Lamichhane, B. R. 2018. Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) (Carnivora: Felidae) distribution and habitat characteristics in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10:12451-12458. https://doi.org/10.11609/jot.3426.10.11.12451-12458

Mishra, R., Gautam, B., Shah, S. K., Subedi, N., Pokheral, C. P. and Lamichhane, B. R. 2020. Opportunistic records of jungle cat (Felis chaus) and their activity pattern in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Nepalese Journal of Zoology 4:50–55. https://doi.org/10.3126/njz.v4i1.30673

Mukherjee, S., Adhya, T., Thatte, P. and Ramakrishnan, U. 2012. Survey of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) (Carnivora: Felidae) and some aspects impacting its conservation in India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 4:3355–3361. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3199.3355-61

Mukherjee, S., Appel, A., Duckworth, J. W., Sanderson, J., Dahal, S., Willcox, D. H. A., Herranz Muñoz, V., Malla, G., Ratnayaka, A., Kantimahanti, M., Thudugala, A., Thaung, R. and Rahman, H. 2016. Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T18150A50662615.en

Subedi, N., Bhattarai, S., Pandey, M., Gurung, A., Lamichhane, S., Thapa, S.K, Regmi, R, Parsai, A, Regmi P, and Lamichhane B.R. 2020. Summary report on faunal diversity in chure region of Nepal. President Chure-Terai Madhesh Conservation Development Board and National Trust for Nature Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Negrões, N., Sarmento, P., Cruz, J., Eira, C., Revilla, E., Fonseca, C., Sollmann, R., Torres, N. M., Furtado, M. M. and Jácomo, A. T. A. 2010. Use of camera‐trapping to estimate puma density and influencing factors in central Brazil. The Journal of Wildlife Management 74:1195–1203. https://doi.org/10.2193/2009-256

Poudel, S., Lamichhane, B. R., Bhattarai, S., Adhikari, D., Pokheral, C. P., Bhatta, T. R., Giri, S. R., Lamichhane, S., Sadaula, A., Gurung, A., Poudyal, L. P., Regmi, U. R. and Subedi, N. 2019. First photographic evidence of fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) and clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa Griffith, 1821 (Carnivora: Felidae) in Parsa National Park, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa 11:13497–13501. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.4549.11.4.13497-13501

Poudyal, L. P., Lamichhane, B. R., Paudel, U., Niroula, S. R., Prasai, A., Malla, S., Subedi, N., Thapa, K. and Dahal, B. R. 2019. Mammals of Shuklaphanta: An Account from Camera Trap Survey (First edition). Shuklaphanta National Park Office, Kanchanpur, Nepal.

QGIS Development Team. 2016. QGIS Version 2.7. Retrieved from: http://www.qgis.org/en/site/

R Core Team. 2020. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation. https://www.r-project.org/

Shekhar Palei, H., Pratap Das, U. and Debata, S. 2018. The vulnerable fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus in Odisha, eastern India: status and conservation implications. Zoology and Ecology 28:69–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/21658005.2018.1468646

Shrestha, S. 2018. Assessment of human-fishing cat conflict in the human-dominated landscape of central tarai, Nepal. MSc thesis, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Suzán, G. and Ceballos, G. 2005. The role of feral mammals on wildlife infectious disease prevalence in two nature reserves within Mexico City limits. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 36:479–484. https://doi.org/10.1638/04-078.1

Taetzsch, S. J., Bertke, A. S. and Gruszynski, K. R. 2018. Zoonotic disease transmission associated with feral cats in a metropolitan area: A geospatial analysis. Zoonoses and Public Health 65:412–419. https://doi.org/10.1111/zph.12449

Taylor, I. R., Baral, H. S., Pandey, P. and Kaspal, P. 2016. The conservation status of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) (Carnivora: Felidae) In Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa 8:8323–8332. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.2034.8.1.8323-8332

Yadav, B. P., Appel, A., Shrestha, B. P., Dahal, B. R. and Dhakal, M. 2020. The fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) in Shuklaphanta National Park, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa 12:17203–17212. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.6145.12.16.17203-17212

Yadav, S. K., Lamichhane, B. R., Subedi, N. and Dhakal, M. 2018. Fishing cat camera trapped in Babai Valley of Bardia National Park, Nepal. Cat News 67:31–33.

Published
2021-07-06
How to Cite
Mishra, R., Gautam, B., Kaspal, P., & Shah, S. K. (2021). Population status and threats to fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Eastern Nepal. Nepalese Journal of Zoology , 5(1), 13-21. https://doi.org/10.3126/njz.v5i1.38284
Section
Research Articles