Can awareness raising minimize road kills of the endangered Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus?
University Of Peradeniya
Ashan Thudugala , Thilina De Silva
Prionailurus viverrinus is an endangered wild cat found in Sri Lanka residing in Gannoruwa forest reserve. The forest and its’ riverine feeding habitat bordering River Mahaweli are separated by a high-level road where it frequently moves across and meets with road accidents. The study aims to find out whether awareness raising has gained success in minimizing road kills and conserving the species.
Population information of the fishing cat were obtained through foot print analysis, tracking individuals by pug marks and scat dispersal records, camera trapping and information obtained from personal interviews through villagers. Furthermore, data loggers were used to get habitat information. Locations of road kills were taken from a GPS receiver and analyzed to implement conservation efforts
According to the results 6 individuals were recorded at the beginning of the study and 40% of cat population was lost due to road kills. Through protecting riverine habitat and from awareness programs we could minimize the killing and road kills by 90% during the last 5 months. Placement of fishing-cat road signs at most vulnerable crossroads happened to be the crucial conservation strategy.
Threats to fishing cats are identified and immediate actions can be taken. Monthly data can be used to estimate the health, mortality, population trends, migratory patterns of fishing cats in the Gannoruwa forest reserve, so that further conservation plans can be implemented. This study shows that awareness raising has a significant effect on conserving wild fauna and highlights its’ importance.