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The Fishing Cat is a highly specialized and threatened felid, and its status is poorly known in the Terai region of Nepal. Systematic camera-trap surveys, comprising 868 camera-trap days in four survey blocks of 40km2 in Rapti, Reu and Narayani river floodplains of Chitwan National Park, were used to determine the distribution and habitat characteristics of this species. A total of 19 photographs of five individual cats were recorded at three locations in six independent events. Eleven camera-trap records obtained during surveys in 2010, 2012 and 2013 were used to map the species distribution inside Chitwan National Park and its buffer zone. Habitat characteristics were described at six locations where cats were photographed. The majority of records were obtained in tall grassland surrounding oxbow lakes and riverbanks. Wetland shrinkage, prey (fish) depletion in natural wetlands and persecution threaten species persistence. Wetland restoration, reducing human pressure and increasing fish densities in the wetlands, provision of compensation for loss from Fishing Cats and awareness programs should be conducted to ensure their survival. We also recommend studying genetic diversity of sub-populations, as well as habitat use by radio-tagging.
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