Awareness Drive about Fishing Cats in Bhangar, South 24 Paraganas
1 December 2019
Following the death of Fishing Cats in Bhangar and the lack of awareness about the importance of conserving Fishing Cat, Human and Environment Alliance League (HEAL), Nature Mates Nature Club and. South 24 Parganas Division of West Bengal Forest Department jointly organized an awareness rally in Bhangar block on the 1st of December, 2019.
In mid December, 2019 a male fishing cat was killed in a road accident following which two local youth went around with the carcass claiming that they had killed the Fishing Cat which they referred to as a Tiger. The youth were detained by the Police and Forest Department. This showed that the general public are still not aware of the fact that Fishing Cat is the State Animal and that it is a priority for conservation in Indian wildlife laws. Even attempting to hurt a Fishing Cat will incur severe jail and imprisonment. Hence the conservation rally was focused on circulating two messages – a) Fishing Cat is the State Animal and West Bengal’s pride b) Killing/hurting Fishing Cat invites imprisonment for 3-7 years and/or penalty of 10,000-25,000 INR.
We did this by miking in entire Bhangar block covering two police stations – Kolkata Leather Complex Police Station and Kasipur police station, stopping and interacting with people at important locations like market places, distributing brochures, putting up posters providing details about the importance of fishing cat and contact numbers should people come across injured/dead Fishing Cat and also distributing a WhatsApp film explaining the same objectives.
This is just a beginning after which we expect to monitor responses from local people which will help us devise strategies.
Here are some more images from the awareness drive.