Paradise Wildlife Park (PWP) and the Big Cat Sanctuary (BCS) once again contribute to global conservation; this time in South East India. The Fishing Cat Conservancy Trust (FCC) has had links with both sites in the UK through its founder Ashwin Naidu visiting to deliver insightful talks on the importance of mangrove environment. BCS is home to fishing cat Aquarius and saw the vital necessity of further research to be conducted around the wild fishing cat. As such, PWP and BCS recognised the importance of the work being led by FCC and sought a partnership to support the charity where possible. This led to first international Conservation Camp being set up by FCC and attended by 6 representatives from PWP and BCS.
Prior to the Camp, each team member who attended from PWP and BCS raised £700 to go towards FCC to then be distributed where they see fit. This round of donations went towards providing the salary for the charity’s researchers so that their fieldwork can continue. It was incredibly humbling for PWP and BCS to know that our monies went directly to supporting important conservation research.
While on the trip, the team was involved in multiple conservation techniques. This ranged from setting up camera traps in the field to education outreach trips. By setting up camera traps FCC are able to attain real life time snap shots of wild fishing cats in their natural habitat. Moreover, being able to locate where fishing cats are active in the wild is vital for accurate monitoring of their ecosystem. From previous sightings, the FCC team could take the team from PWP and BCS to an area where fishing cats have been spotted before. It was incredible for wildlife enthusiasts and cat lovers to see a subadult male fishing cat a mere 10 feet away from the boat the teams were spotting from. A truly unforgettable experience! The team was also involved in tracking and mangrove replanting. Replanting mangrove saplings in more suitable ground is important for sustaining the environment of the local wildlife, ensuring there are plentiful mangroves for the fishing cats, otters and jungle cats to thrive in will greatly impact the survival of these ecosystems.
Being able to interact with local communities was also an eye-opening experience. The children in the local villages were very receptive and inquisitive. Most importantly, the debate surrounding fishing cat and human conflict arose through a child expressing frustration that fishing cats often steal their family’s chickens. This was a key moment for the team to engage in an important dialogue as one of the challenges the charity faces are getting the local people to find a care and passion for wild animals. After healthy and enlightening discussions, the FCC team made a great impression with the local community, which was shown through the mass offering of dinner and visits to the conservation camp. It was fantastic to make an impressionable impact on the children especially as we hope that they will take what they learnt and apply it when they grow into adults.
PWP and BCS were truly honoured to be supporting FCC and to be part of an incredible conservation trip. Both sites will continue the support of the FCC and hope to one day host FCC in the UK. A massive thank-you to all who donated to BCS – your donations have supported the vital research of East Godavri’s mangrove environments in order to save precious ecosystems.