Travel blogger helps Sri Lanka’s endangered fishing cat survive the urban jungle

Sri Lanka’s elusive and secretive fishing cat is on the endangered list—and American blogger and world traveller Carol is doing her bit to save it.

She writes on Wayfaring Views how Sri Lankan conservationist Anya Ratnayaka is working to raise awareness of our fussy tabby feline, which is comprehensively outshone by its big-brother leopards.

“They live in wetlands where they swim around and catch fish. However, they are opportunistic feeders, and also eat small mammals, birds and domestic chickens.

“The cats are stressed by human conflict such as road accidents, retaliatory actions from chicken kills and, to a lesser extent, poaching for bush meat. However, habitat loss is the primary cause for concern.

“The cats in Colombo are trying to carve out a living in a city with 750,000 humans who sprawl over 14 square miles (23/k) … and all of that human housing and commercial activity eats into the prime wetland habitat that the cats call home.”

But she adds that our growing understanding of the value of the urban wetlands “for both wildlife conservation and tide water management and the city of Colombo has begun to restore wetlands to bring the environment back into balance”.

Conservationist Anya Ratnayaka is a prime mover behind the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project (UFCCP), which uses tracking collars to monitor the cat’s range and track how they are navigating the urban environment.

It has also set up camera traps in the Thalawatugoda biodiversity park, a reclaimed wetland in southwestern Colombo and a prime cat habitat.

Says Carol: “The cats seem to have a particular fondness for nice neighborhoods and houses landscaped with fancy fish ponds. When they find a house with delicious fish stock, they will return again and again until the pond stands empty.”

Read more here.

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