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The link between fishing cats and mangrove forest conservation

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    (Imitates fishing cat)
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    That's my impersonation of a fishing cat.
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    Which actually sounds more like this.
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    (Fishing cat sounds)
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    It's a cat that loves water,
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    loves to fish,
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    and lives in some of the most unique
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    and valuable ecosystems on earth:
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    the wetlands and mangrove forests
    of South and Southeast Asia.
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    Aren't they fishing awesome?
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    (Laughter)
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    Fishing cats are one
    of about 40 species of wild cats.
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    Like tigers and lions, only much smaller.
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    They are probably around twice the size
    of our average domestic cat.
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    In Indonesia,
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    people call them kucing bakau,
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    which literally translates
    to the cat of the mangroves.
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    But I like to call them
    the tigers of the mangroves.
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    Now, we don't know fishing cats
    as well as we do tigers.
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    But what we've learned is that these cats
    can be a flagship species
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    to a globally important ecosystem,
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    and a visual bait attached
    to a strong line for conservation.
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    Are you hooked yet?
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    Like many endangered species,
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    fishing cats are threatened
    by habitat loss,
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    mainly because of our international demand
    for farmed fish and shrimp,
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    and the deforestation of nearly half
    the historic mangrove cover
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    in South and Southeast Asia.
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    Mangroves, on the other hand,
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    are much more than just habitat
    to the fishing cat.
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    They are home to a fantastic
    array of species,
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    like jackals,
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    turtles,
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    shorebirds,
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    and otters.
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    Mangroves also prevent soil erosion.
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    And they can be the first line of defense
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    between storm surges, tsunamis,
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    and the millions of people
    who live next to these forests
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    for their day-to-day survival.
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    The fact that puts the icing on the cake,
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    or the earth, I should say,
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    is that mangroves can store
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    upwards of five to ten times
    more carbon dioxide
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    than tropical forests.
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    So protecting one acre of mangroves,
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    may well be like protecting five
    or more acres of tropical forests.
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    Would you like to eliminate
    you entire life's carbon footprint?
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    Well, mangroves can offer you
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    one of the best bangs
    for your conservation buck.
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    Deforestation, extinction
    and climate change
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    are all global problems that we can solve
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    by giving value to our
    species and ecosystems
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    and by working together
    with the local people
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    who live next to them.
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    This is one of three river deltas
    in coastal South India,
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    where communities came together
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    to change the face and potentially,
    the fate of this planet.
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    In less than a decade,
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    with international support,
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    the state forest departments
    and the local communities
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    worked together to restore
    over 20,000 acres
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    of unproductive fish and shrimp farms
    back into mangroves.
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    About five years ago,
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    guess who we discovered
    in these restored mangroves?
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    When we shared images
    of these fishing cats with local people,
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    we were able to build pride among them
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    about a globally revered
    endangered species and ecosystem
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    in their back yards.
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    We were also able to build trust
    with some people
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    to help them lead alternative livelihoods.
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    Meet Santosh, a 19-year-old boy
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    who not only became
    a conservation professional
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    after working with us
    for just over a year,
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    but also went on to involve
    many local fishermen
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    in helping study and protect fishing cats.
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    Meet Moshi, a tribal poacher,
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    who not only stopped hunting
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    and became our most
    prized conservationist,
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    but also used his traditional knowledge
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    to educate his entire community
    to stop hunting fishing cats, otters,
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    and the many other threatened species
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    that live in the mangroves
    in his back yard.
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    Fish and shrimp farmers, like Venkat,
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    are now willing to work
    with us conservationists
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    to test the sustainable harvest
    of ecosystem services like crabs
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    and possibly even honey for mangroves.
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    Incentives that could get them
    to protect and plant mangroves
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    where they have been lost.
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    A win-win-win
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    for fishing cats, local people,
    and the global community.
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    These stories show us
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    that we can all be part of a future
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    where fishing cats
    and the lost mangrove forests
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    are protected and restored
    by fishermen themselves,
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    creating carbon sinks
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    that can help offset
    our ecological footprints.
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    So while the fishing cat may be small,
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    I hope that we've been able
    to help make it a big deal.
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    One that we can all invest in
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    to help sustain our lives
    on earth a little longer.
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    Or as our friend here would say ...
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    (Fishing cat sounds)
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    Thank you.
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    (Applause)
Title:
The link between fishing cats and mangrove forest conservation
Speaker:
Ashwin Naidu
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
05:39

English subtitles

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