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…)

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.

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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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