Fishing Cat Breeding Plans in Siliguri Park

The West Bengal Zoo Authority (WBZA) plans to introduce captive breeding programs for fishing cats, listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, in Bengal Safari: North Bengal Wild Animal Park in Siliguri. As part of the 72nd week celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, and starting today, the park is holding seven-day fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) programs. A “Run for a Cause” event, lesser cats under threat – save our state animal; save fishing cats’ was conducted at safari park today. The species is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. According to WBZA member secretary Saurabh Chaudhury, the zoo authority was planning to start the fishing cat conservation breeding program in the park. “The fishing cat is the state animal of Bengal, and the WBZA started the captive breeding program for the animal two years ago. Initially, two zoos were selected for this program – Alipore Zoo and Garchumuk Deer Park in Howrah.

Fishing cats were common in North Bengal in the recent past, and we now have plans to reintroduce the animals to suitable habitats in the region. Probably within the next three to four years the safari park will also be part of the fishing cat conservation breeding program,” Mr Chaudhury said. The park is home to two fishing cats – Bhupen and Yangchen brought from Garchumuk and Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling respectively. They are about four years old. Park authorities are now planning to bring an additional couple from Garchumuk or Sepahijala Zoological Park to Tripura. “The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has selected the species for the seven-day celebrations. Therefore, we have initiated species-focused programs. Both fishing cats are healthy and receiving live fish, fruit and other food Two more fishing cats – a male and a female will be brought in so that we can plan for captive breeding of this species in the future.

But for this we need the approval of the CZA and the WBZA. The park will also educate visitors about catfishing, its importance throughout the week,” said park manager Dawa Sangmu Sherpa. Sources said park authorities have already sent a proposal to Sepahijala Zoological Park. The nocturnal animal thrives in moist areas. The spots and stripes on its body make it look like a leopard or a tiger cub. According to Ms. Sherpa, the species faced several threats from poaching and habitat depletion. The park authorities organized a signature campaign, an eight-kilometer marathon, in which around 100 people participated, including residents, a joint forest management committee and park employees.