Normally, cats avoid water like the plague, but Thailand’s “fishing cats,” with their partially webbed feet and pointed heads evolved for diving, are built for hunting in the mangrove swamps and streams.
But this rare breed’s entire future could depend on the decisions made in, of all places, the frozen food section of the supermarket.
Fishing cats only live in South and Southeast Asia and there are only several thousand of them left in the wild. One of the big culprits in their potential extinction is shrimp farms.
Shrimp farmers dig big holes and raise hundreds of thousands of shrimp, which are then sorted, put on ice and shipped out.
The farms threaten fishing cats in two ways, Cutter said. The first is that the cats are losing their natural habitat to metastasizing shrimp farms, and are sometimes driven to kill chickens belonging to local villagers. Then those villagers turn around and kill the cats.
Sometimes the animals Cutter and her team have been tracking for months simply disappear, she said.
“It’s very, very sad,” Cutter said. “You become attached to them and then when you lose them it’s very sad.”
Rare fishing cats threatened
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