We talk a lot about tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards and cheetahs, but we have neglected learning more about the small wild cats here within our community. These smaller cousins are important indicators of the health of an ecosystem, and sadly endangered. Even though the majority of wild felids are small cats, these cats receive less than 1% of the total conservation funding for wild cats. Like their big cousins, small cats are threatened by loss of habitat and prey, poaching and conflict with humans and livestock.
According to Jim Sanderson, a scientist with the Small Cat Conservation Alliance and Conservation International, one of the ways we can all help small cat conservation efforts is by simply asking to see small cats when you visit a zoo. Sanderson states that small cats are typically overlooked by zoos and simply expressing your interest in the smaller cats will help the zoos realize you want to learn about and conserve these smaller cats too.
Meet Minnow, the Fishing Cat
The Cincinnati Zoo and Aquarium is one zoo where you can learn more about not only the big cats but the smaller cats too and one species in particular the fishing cat. The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is a small cat species from Southeast Asia’s wetlands. True to their name, this wild cat has been observed diving into water after fish as well as plucking fish out of the water with their paws. These cats are adapted to swimming with their eyes open enabling them to chase prey underwater.
Fishing cats are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with only an estimated 3,000 left in the wild. The fishing cat’s greatest threats are habitat loss and conflict with encroaching humans. This small cat shares their habitat with other endangered species including tigers, orangutans and the Asian elephant. Through education and global collaboration we can all help save the fishing cat from extinction.
Minnow is the Cincinnati Zoo’s first and only fishing cat ambassador and perhaps the only fishing cat ambassador at an AZA facility at the present time. Minnow is helping spread awareness about fishing cats and this charismatic small cat inspired, her trainer and our friend Linda Castenada, to support research and conservation of fishing cats. Linda has been the Coordinator and Lead Trainer with the Cat Ambassador Program since 2007. After a few years of working with Minnow, Linda was determined to do more to support fishing cats in the wild where the conversion of natural wetlands for aquaculture and the persecution of fishing cats for preying on fish and shrimp farms threaten the cat’s survival.
Meet Linda, the founder of Fishing Cat Fund
Linda is the Education Advisor to the Fishing Cat Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to conserve species through research, breeding, education and conservation. Linda’s dedication to this mission is so strong that she recently established the Fishing Cat Fund . The Fishing Cat Fund works collaboratively with non-profits to increase fishing cat range and populations through global education and conservation.
Fishing Cat Fund
The Fishing Cat Fund goals are:
- Create accessible education tools to support fishing cat awareness and conservation goals
- Provide strategies for public support of fishing cat conservation.
- Financially support in situ fishing cat conservation projects.
The First Fishing Cat Symposium
The Fishing Cat Fund is working hard on the first Fishing Cat Symposium, to be held in Nepal in May 2015. The symposium will gather current fishing cat conservationists from fishing cat range countries including, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The goal of the Symposium is to discuss the state of the fishing cat, share best research practices and create collaboration opportunities among projects.
Your Support of Triple T Studios Made a Donation to the Fishing Cat Fund
Thanks to your support of Triple T Studios, we were able to make a donation to The Fishing Cat Fund. The donations support conservationist travel, accommodations, workshop materials and publication of proceedings. Donations can be made online Donate to The Fishing Cat Fund and are tax deductible.
Follow along and learn more by liking Fishing Cat SSP on Facebook.
Thank you for caring about all cats big and small.