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The Fishing Cat

This rare and little-known Cat is associated with wetlands, and primarily preys upon fish, giving it its name. A medium-sized felid, the Fishing Cat is known in Khmer (the Cambodian language) as “Kla Trey”, which literally translates as “Tiger Fish”. This association with the feared Tiger makes some rural Cambodians afraid of the Fishing Cat, which may have contributed to direct persecution of the species. The Fishing Cat may have been known in Cambodia for hundreds of years as the bas-relief below, dated from around the turn of the 12th century, shows:

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Bas relief on Bayon Temple possibly representing a Fishing Cat swimming

Bas relief on Bayon Temple possibly representing a Fishing Cat swimming

How the project was born: The 2015 CBC Fishing Cat survey

Fishing Cat records in Cambodia are scarce. In spite of extensive camera-trapping biodiversity surveys carried out by conservation NGOs throughout the country, only one picture of a Fishing Cat was documented – in 2003.

In 2015 a team from the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC – a capacity building initiative from Flora and Fauna International and the Royal University of Phnom Penh) discovered Fishing Cats at two sites with no previous records in southwest Cambodia: Peam Krosaop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) and Ream National Park (RNP). Read more about the survey…

2015 CBC Survey featured image

Sadly, soon after the study was completed the CBC was informed of the killing of a Fishing Cat in PKWS in retaliation for raiding fishing nets. Human-Fishing Cat conflict therefore constitutes a direct threat to the population. Threat assessment will be one of the first activities of the Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project in order to formulate and implement conflict prevention and mitigation measures.

Kla Trey | Cambodian Fishing Cat Project

The project will implement conservation actions for the Fishing Cat, other species within this unique mangrove ecosystem and contribute to the body of knowledge on this fascinating cat. To meet our objectives, we are combining ecological and social approaches in order to characterise the new population in PKWS, develop human-Fishing Cat conflict mitigation strategies and if appropriate, alternative livelihood options and ecosystem enhancement actions.

Project activities

1. To estimate the number of Fishing Cats, their habitat use and the population status in PKWS through camera-trapping and radio-collaring in future stages.

2. To identify threats to preservation of Fishing Cats in PKWS using social data, to be collected through interviews and workshops with community members and all relevant stakeholders. Awareness raising actions will be designed based on the information gathered.

3. To research and put in place human-Fishing Cat conflict prevention and mitigation measures.

4.To collaborate with PKWS authorities, NGOs and local communities to create an integrated wildlife conservation program for the area based upon whole project results.

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