The Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) released a rescued fishing cat back into the wild on Wednesday.
It was rescued on Monday, after the SWD received a complaint of it being stuck in the sewerage pipe of a private factory.
The cat was kept in rehabilitation for two days and was eventually released in a jungle near the wildlife sanctuary adjacent to Hub Dam.
Speaking on the matter, an SWD official, Hasnain, told The media, that the cat was healthy and active at the time of release, and termed the rescue operation “a great success.”
Hi students, nature & wildlife lovers!
Sindh Wildlife officers Hasnain, Naeem & Nadeem r celebrating bcz they rescued & successfully released “Noni❤️the Fishing Cat” @ Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary near Karachi that constitutes it’s natural habitat. This solitary animal is 1/2 pic.twitter.com/TNRmUroY0l
— SindhWildlife (@sindhwildlife) July 15, 2020
This was confirmed by SWD conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar who said that the rescued cat was in a safe habitat.
According to SWD officials, the last time the department had rescued a fishing cat was almost five years ago in 2015, in Sukkur.
A ‘safe haven’ in Sindh
Fishing cats are larger in size than other cats, active swimmers and clever felines – but are also a rare sight in the wild, mainly due to their secretive and shy nature. They have been listed as vulnerable animals but wildlife conservators believe that Sindh is still a safe haven for them.
However, there is disagreement on their significant presence in the province.
While some wildlife experts maintain that a considerable population exists and has been witnessed near Karachi, others deny this claim.
However, there is consensus on their presence in Nara Wetland Complex, Chotryaron Reserves, Hamal Lake, Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary, the coastal belt in Badin and Thatta and numerous other water bodies.
While they are rarely witnessed in these areas too, Mahar said he had seen some near Hub Dam Wildlife Sanctuary.
Similarly, SWD deputy conservator Adnan Khan told The media that he had seen a fishing cat some 80 kilometres from Karachi couple of months ago.
“It was like a leopard, a giant cat that looked very attractive,” he described.
However, an estimate of fishing cats’ population in the province is yet to be determined.
“They’re secretive and shy animals. Thus, advanced research methods need to be employed to count their exact population,” Mahar said, adding that there was higher likelihood of witnessing them near fish farms as they prey on aquatic animals.
“Interestingly, the common cat is afraid of water, yet the fishing cat loves it and prefers to live near it,” he noted.
Mahar went on to relate that some villagers had killed a fishing cat near Keti Bunder some months ago, even though it had not hurt anyone. “They killed it because they were unaware of its importance,” he said, adding that at times people would kill animals without realising their significance.