Fishing Cat Rescued and Released in Murshidabad

31 May 2023

Human emotions may seem like an improbable factor impacting carnivore conservation, but to the fortunes of the imperiled fishing cat, they make all the difference.

Fishing cats are highly elusive. It enables them to thrive in wetlands alongside high human population density. Unfortunately, their stealth often works to their detriment. Communities are often unaware of what a fishing cat is, causing them to mistake it for a leopard during chance encounters. The ensuing fear prevents people from accepting fishing cats around them. Consequently, they either resort to lethal persecution or push for translocation.

The rescued fishing cat being kept temporarily in a cage before release

HEAL, together with The Fishing Cat Project, has been working to address people’s misconceptions regarding the fishing cat in an effort to mitigate fear psychosis and foster empathy towards the globally endangered small carnivore. The video below provides evidence of some of the successes achieved by such efforts.

On 28 May 2023, people of Murshidabad’s Hamidpur had asked for a fishing cat to be removed from their village fearing that it’s a leopard or a tiger which would attack them. However, with active interaction, this attitude changed to that of pride and acceptance of the cat, which was released back to the village on the 31 May.