Wildlife Conservationist. Mother to Sirius and Vega. Powerlifter. Founder of the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project. Co-founder of Small Cat Advocacy and Research. Mphil candidate at the University of Queenstalnd, Australia.
For #womeninscienceday we want to highlight the women behind our project. They come from a range of different backgrounds and one is even from a different continent, but they all have two things in common. A passion for science and the drive to reach new levels in their respective fields.
Last Saturday (June 2nd) we joined the Diyasaru Park team for an awareness programme organised by the Mahanama College Interact Club for their Miracle Life 2018 initiative. We were the final phase of the Club’s “major green life project” aimed at creating awareness on the importance of wetlands for sustainable cities. The initiative was also held to commemorate the Environment Day theme 2018, BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION. (more…)
I had just finished a pleasant—no, horrible—5k on the most hated machine of any oarswoman/man, the erg, when my phone started lighting up like a malfunctioning Christmas light.
It was fellow GWC associate conservation scientist and Small Cat Advocacy & Research (SCAR) co-founder Ashan on the other end, informing me about a kitten that was found by someone in Colombo, and that the individual in question was asking the Facebook community for advice. Oh, God! He said that judging by the photographs posted online, it seemed to be a Fishing Cat kitten. (more…)
On the April 30, 2017, our new organisation Small Cat Advocacy and Research (SCAR) held it’s first field workshop. It was organised by Nature Beyond the Horizon, the Environment Society of the Horizon Campus. The field workshop followed a lecture given by Ashan a few weeks earlier at the Campus itself, and was held at our study site – the Thalawathugoda Biodiversity Study Park. (more…)
I frequently get emails from people who are interested in seeing how they can help with the project, and one of the most fun ways to do so is by engaging in citizen science. Citizen science is science that’s conducted by people who are not full-time scientists, and is hugely important for small conversation projects like ours. The concept is gaining popularity worldwide, and we would love to see more Sri Lankans become citizen scientists!
Recently, I was privileged to deliver a WNPS lecture on small wild cats in Sri Lanka. A big portion of the talk was of course dedicated to my work at the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project, here in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
While I’ve given talks before, I was simply blown away by the interest shown by this particular audience, and I spent over an hour after the event, chatting to many people who shared my enthusiasm for protecting our fishing cats.
Something that nearly everyone asked me, both at the talk, and in the days after, is how can I help? I hope this post answers that question!
My submission to Small Wild Cat Conservation News 2016, with a few additional titbits.
Getting people in Sri Lanka to pay attention to anything that does not involve the Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is definitely a challenge. Many do not find smaller mammals very interesting, which makes getting funding from local companies especially hard. However, in November 2015, I approached MAS Active Linea Intimo (MAS LI), a branch of MAS Holdings, which is one of the largest manufacturers of apparel in the region. Chances are, they manufacture a lot of the fancy sports wear you own! The CEO of MAS LI, Chelan Goonetilleke is a known wildlife enthusiast, so I tried my luck in pitching my proposal to him. While driving to the factory in the Board of Investments (BOI) zone in Biyagama, east of Colombo, I kept going over my presentation in my mind, but tried to play it cool. I had been turned down numerous times before, and Chelan had only 30 minutes to sit with me, so I knew I was not going to get a second shot at it.
Last year I was granted funds by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund a reputed funding organisation dedicated to helping researchers like me to study the wildlife we all know (in some cases) and love (in almost all cases).
Last October a team from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZSCF) landed in sunny Sri Lanka to discuss a dugong project. In-between these discussions, they dabbled with grantees who received funds that year. I, was one of them. Here’s the amazing film they made on the urban fishing cats in Sri Lanka!
Our chickens are great: two black Cochin Bantam chickies which we purchased from a pet shop, along with two shiny cages for them. Out trapping is done in a humane way. No one gets hurt. The chickens are kept in separate enclosures close to the trap cages, and provide sound and visual cues that are supposed to catch the fishing cats’ attention. Once the cat is in the area, we use other methods to trap it. The chickens and the cats never mingle, and everyone is happy!