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!

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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!

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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.

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After about 2 years of science, it is finally time to get the proverbial ball rolling on the whole awareness aspect of my work. I’m a strong believer that awareness and education plays a massive role in conservation efforts. Yes, science does a lot, but most people aren’t scientists. Have you tried reading a journal article? They are really technical and unless you know the background, can be quite daunting. So how could I expect someone from a non-science background to read the sciency stuff? But, awareness is fun, so I am glad that we got funds to do this!

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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.

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A question I get asked a lot is, “how does a fishing cat fish?”. It’s a pretty legit question right. It’s impossible not to think of a cat sitting at the edge of a pond with a fishing rod and a little outfit, much like Beatrix Potter’s Mr. Jeremy Fisher. The first time I heard of fishing cats I thought the exact same thing. But I assure you, fishing cats have a much wider range of fishing techniques. So far I have identified three. Let me elaborate.

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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.

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With my research permit in hand, I was off to find myself a fishing cat!

It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I was finally getting away from my desk and that awful chair! I’m sure you all know what I mean. Having a lumpy chair to sit on all day is the WORST! You spend more time trying to get comfortable than actually doing work. Anyway, I was all excited. I had my homemade trap cage all ready for the field, my collars were programmed to perfection and my equipment was all neatly packed in a bag. I was ready to collar my first fishing cat.
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