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…)
Text and photography by Mihiri Wikramanayake – crossposted from Mihipedia.lk
It’s an overcast Sunday afternoon, and while the clouds keep the sun at bay, the day is devoid of its usual humidity and seems perfect for walking. Today, like many times before, we are letting our two dogs explore the wetland.
Almost a stone’s throw from the Parliament Complex at Sri Jayawardenapura, Kotte, the Diyasaru Uyana (formerly known as the Thalawathugoda Biodiversity Study Park), is a 60-acre urban wetland that is home to more than 80 species of wetland birds, over 40 species of butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles and other terrestrial and aquatic plant species. Adding to the list is the otter, the Purple-faced leaf monkey, a long-tailed arboreal languor endemic to Sri Lanka, and the even a couple of estuarine crocodiles. (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…)
Recently I visited the wetlands in Thalawathugoda, by Diyatha Uyana to do some photography. In all honesty, I was not expecting to see much. The wetland lies adjacent to bustling road, and with it comes the fumes and incessant sounds of revving and impatient horning. I was pleasantly surprised to find, however, that the wetland was brimming with many different species of birds, butterflies and a new favorite of mine, dragonflies. I didn’t know where to look and I was rather dizzy and disoriented from turning about and running around, following blurred images darting dragonflies and butterflies. It was quite the exciting event for me, and even if you are not as invested in these things, you may have a change of heart if you grace the Thalawathugoda Biodiversity Study Park. (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…)
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 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!