Fishing Cat Awareness Rally in Malda

13 December 2022

When a fishing cat was brutally killed in Malda district’s Kumarpur village in October, it became apparent that the knowledge of its status as West Bengal’s State Animal and the protection conferred to it by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 has not pervaded completely in certain areas.

Therefore, on 13 December, HEAL in collaboration with The Fishing Cat Project organised an awareness rally in villages of Kaliachak-I block to apprise the local community of the fishing cat’s ecological and cultural significance, conservation threats and the need to protect them.

School students participating in the fishing cat awareness rally

Starting at Srirampur, the rally went through Banpur village and lasted all the way till Kumarpur. By miking, sharing leaflets and displaying informative banners, we conveyed our message through oral, written and visual communication. However, the most impactful were one-on-one interactions with locals which our team members often did during the course of the awareness drive.

Over 40 students from three local schools, civic volunteers, members of women Self- Help Groups and village panchayat heads and subheads, all joined the awareness drive, making it a huge success. We thank our Zonal Coordinator in Malda Jayanta Chakraborty and his local volunteer team who were instrumental in arranging and carrying out all the preparations for the rally.

Local communities that share space with fishing cats represent the most important stakeholders, whose involvement in conserving the globally threatened fishing cat is of paramount importance. Generating awareness forms the first step in garnering empathy and support which when sustained over a period of time gives rise to active involvement in conservation efforts. We are glad to have initiated this first step in Malda – a district previously thought to be devoid of fishing cats – and will continue to scale our efforts here.