Association for Social and Environmental Development

Lesser-known Species Grant 2021

Project Name:

Fish-Fishing Cat-Fisherfolk: Visualising persistence of a rich socio-ecological system

Project Brief:

ASED's project in collaboration with The Fishing Cat Conservation Project, proposes to work towards research and conservation of the elusive and endangered Fishing cat in Chilika. Fishing Cat is a Schedule I species (WLPA, 1972) and a high-rated 'Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered' (EDGE) species, and thus, a global priority for research and conservation. They are found in Chilika which lies outside the protected area network.

Chilika's ~100 sq. marsh provides suitable habitat for Fishing Cat and livelihoods to ~1 lakh fishermen but is threatened with clogging and conversion to intensive aquaculture, leading to loss of traditional fishing-oriented livelihoods. The project visualises the formation of a concrete Fishing Cat conservation action plan here by integrating and synchronizing the roles of government management and protection agencies and indigenous fisherfolk.

Project objectives:
  • Develop a management plan for conservation of Fishing Cat and its habitat in Chilika
  • Enhance and maintain resources by
    • Linking conservation with sustainable livelihoods
      • i) build capacity for cultivation of indigenous wetland rice (that provide foraging grounds to birds and seasonal habitat to Fishing Cat) with hyacinth compost, a clogging agent, and, promoting them as 'organic and conservation-friendly'
      • ii) build capacity for community-based ornamental aquaculture of indigenous freshwater fishes to address low fish abundance related livelihood loss
    • Restoring converted marshlands
  • Create stewardship and advocacy for Fishing Cat and its habitat among local and national students.