Mangrove crabs – an alternative livelihood project to help protect fishing cats and their globally important mangrove habitat in coastal South India

Fishing Cat Conservancy
Published: 21 August 2018
Last edited: 05 October 2020
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In coastal Andhra Pradesh in India, deforestation and aquaculture threaten unprotected mangrove forests and several vulnerable species that inhabit them, primarily fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) and smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata). A feasible strategy to conserve these unprotected mangroves is to provide human communities with alternative and sustainable livelihoods. One idea that can potentially curb deforestation is the sustainable harvest of mangrove mud crabs (Scylla spp.) with crab-culture boxes in naturally occurring water channels among mangroves. This idea is also a low-investment alternative to commercial aquaculture ponds that are more expensive to maintain, pollute natural waters, and are prone to income losses due to soil infertility.


South Asia
Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Ecosystem services
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Local actors
Species management
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Other theme
Community-based conservation
Land and Forest degradation
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Infrastructure development
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience


Bendamurlanka, Amalapuram, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh, India | Godavari River Delta, Andhra Pradesh, India
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We are working to address deforestation of coastal mangroves and habitat loss to fishing cats due to aquaculture and agriculture. An estimated 50% or more of the historic mangrove forest cover throughout South and Southeast Asia has been lost due to unsustainable fish and shrimp farming practices.


The 'Mangrove Crabs' project's focus is currently on small, unprotected mangrove patches outside protected areas in coastal South India. We are in the process of testing box-based crab harvest with local people from three villages, Bendamurlanka (BEN), Samanthakuru (SAM), and Gachakayala Pora (GAC) in the Godavari River Delta of Andhra Pradesh, India. So far, we have deployed 20 crab boxes in unprotected mangrove areas, and are monitoring the growth of two crab species - Scylla serrata and Scylla olivacea in these boxes. We hope to encourage at least three people, one from each village, to help scale up our pilot crab-harvest by deploying 160-180 more crab boxes in total by the end of 2018 and market the harvest crabs.

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Fishing Cat Conservancy Supporting Organizations of the Fishing Cat Conservancy

Other contributors

Fishing Cat Conservancy