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!
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.
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!
If any of you have been to the old Environmental Foundation (Guarantee) Limited office, you know that it’s in the heart of Thimbirigasyaya. A hot and dusty spot, slap bang behind a petrol shed, and like all great petrol sheds, we are often welcomed with the aroma of fresh pressed petrol fumes every once in awhile.
Two weeks ago, we accidentally caught a fishing cat.
The cage triggered, because the wire which we used to keep the door open, had snapped. But before I go into too much detail, let’s go over a few things. Things that must be done before trapping a cat.
It’s as usual been a while, but it’s not my fault, really. The weather has been gloomy and it’s raining constantly. Rain = sleepiness and laziness. It does not equal blog post writing.
Anyway, the monsoon winds blew Fiona Fern in all the way from London. Fiona is a visiting researcher from England, who has worked with fishing cat and other small cats at The Aspinall Foundation, Port Lympne. Working with her on my project has been a blast! We’ve been corresponding over email for a while, and she finally landed here for three months.
After more than an year of running around, getting all the appropriate permits and letters, I am finally back. Yes, I do have to write about the collaring last year, but I, very sheepishly admit that I got a little lazy with the blog posts!
So anyway, I have my permits, my collars are on the way and I am sitting in office, when I get a call from UPS. My camera’s had arrived, and they would be delivered the next day! It was like Christmas. I was literally squealing and bouncing off the walls at work, temporarily stunning my colleagues who thought that I had finally lost my marbles.