Anthony J. Giordano
Director, Conservation Science & Field Projects, S.P.E.C.I.E.S. of LifeScape International; Ph.D. Student & Graduate Research, Dept. of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University
Research: The Impact of Human Population Density & Development on the Status of Fishing Cats in Bangladesh: Their Potential to Serve as an Indicator Species in the World’s Most Densely-Populated Nation
Species/Topic: Fishing cats and other South Asian felids
Abstract: The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) was recently reclassified as "Endangered" by the IUCN (January 2009). Despite an apparent several year decline as determined from recent general surveys throughout its range, little is known about this elusive felid. Some evidence suggests that the fishing cat, rather than inhabiting riverine drainages in tropical rainforest or evergreen broadleaf forests, is actually a wetland specialist. And nowhere throughout the species' range do wetlands occupy a greater area than in Bangladesh. Despite losing > 95% of its original primary tropical deciduous and evergreen forests, anecdotal reports of fishing cats in some regions are actually common. Furthermore, fewer countries are in as dire need of safeguarding its remaining biodiversity, or its economic livelihood, as Bangladesh. We are proposing to investigate the fishing cat as a reliable and suitable indicator species of ecosystem health in this country. In doing so, we hope to shed light on this endangered species' ecology and natural history.