Everyone knows about the main wild cats like tigers and lions, and how they need our protection. There are hundred of organizations dedicated to helping these wild cats. However, one cat has been left out. There is a cat that has lived, thrived, and created its own unique way of life for centuries under human’s radar. A cat built for diving. A cat that, by tapping its claw on the water, imitates a bug landing in order to lure a fish to the surface, and then ambushes that fish. And lastly, a cat that needs and deserves our help just as much as the lions and tigers.
The Fishing Cat is one of the lesser known wild felines. They are found in Southeast Asia, specifically in northern India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, and the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. Like the name suggests, this cat favors water and is often found around marshes, lakes, streams, and other wetlands that are heavily vegetated.
One of the most skilled fishermen out of the cats, the Fishing Cat has exhibited several distinct fishing behaviors, such as its short tail like a rudder, and its body has uniquely adapted to fit with their wetland habitat. They can swim long distances under water, and are known to dive so deep that they can surface under aquatic birds to catch them.
Due to the cat’s aquatic nature and tough build there are thought to be no natural predators for it in the wild. Due to this, being declared as endangered only leaves humans to blame. The main cause for them being endangered is habitat loss. Humans have been increasingly settling and building in the Fishing Cat’s wetlands, then poisoning them with chemicals fertilizers. Another problem is that in the wetlands humans have populated locals end up overfishing the nearby lakes and streams, drastically diminishing the cat’s food source. Overall, 50% of Asia’s wetland habitats are in danger of disappearing under humans.
For a while no one was really aware of this cat and its dwindling numbers, which is why the conservation for it is only now really starting to become effective. They are now being protected; hunting them is illegal in most of the areas that they are found. The Fishing Cat Research and Conservation Project is the first main research and effort put into understanding and conserving the fishing cat. With the only things keeping this species alive are the project and zoos, these cats desperately need our help, because if nothing changes, their wetlands will be completely taken over.