Fishing Cat Sighted in Koh Kong Province for First Time in Two Years

Two years after the last sighting of the species in Cambodia, two fishing cats—a wild cat native to South and Southeast Asia that is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List—have been caught on camera in Koh Kong province, a wildlife conservation NGO said.

A fishing cat is pictured by a camera-trap in Koh Kong province, two years after the species’ last sighting. (Cambodian Fishing Cat Project)

The Cambodian Fishing Cat Project on Wednesday released their first photographs of the cats taken since 26 cameras were installed in mangrove areas in Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) in February, part of surveying efforts to confirm whether a population remains there.

A previous study, carried out in 2015 by the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, turned up the first photographic evidence of the species in over a decade, the NGO said in a news release on Wednesday.

“This is the first glimpse of the fishing cat population in PKWS,” the release quoted project leader Vanessa Herranz Munoz as saying.

The results show that “PKWS is regionally significant for the species,” the NGO’s communications officer, Claire Baker-Munton, said in an email.

Over the course of the project, “[w]e hope to capture some of Fishing Cats’ distinctive water-loving behaviors on film and perhaps answer intriguing questions, such as whether they swim across wide channels in search of new territories,” she added.

The greatest threat to the animal’s survival is “human persecution,” the release said.

“In 2015, killings of Fishing Cats in PKWS in retaliation for damaging fishers’ nets was identified as a major conservation challenge,” but the cats may no longer be viewed as a threat, the release added.

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