Towards fishing cat conservation in hill country Sri Lanka
University Of PeradeniyaAuthors
A. N. Thudugala, G. Ellepola, T.N De Silva, K.B. Ranawana
Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?
Prionailurus viverrinus is an endangered wild cat, which is quite abundant in the hill country wet zone, Sri Lanka. The local populations are highly threatened mainly due to poaching and poisoning caused by misconception as well as the high number of road kills that increase at a yearly basis owing to habitat fragmentation by the national highway system that expands rapidly. This study aims to find out the threats and to take necessary conservation actions to minimize them
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?
The study was carried out in three sites; Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Matale districts of central province. During the study, population trends, ecology, and threats were monitored by camera trapping, scat collections, pug mark censusing, veterinary records and interviews with local community. Niche modeling of P. viverrinus was carried out for study areas using ArcGIS (10.1) and MODIS NDVI data as this will be important in locating potential Fishing Cat conservation sites and in Environmental impact assessments in the future.Awareness programs and youth camps were organized targeting school children and villagers in the target sites and school children were selected as the target audience considering their undisrupted thinking process and convincing ability. In the near future, placement of fishing-cat road signs at most vulnerable road kill points will also be done and it will be assessed during the study period.
Results: What are your most important results?
Results so far indicate 27 recordings of P. viverrinus within the three districts of research. Threats were analyzed district wise. The highest number of threats were recorded for fishing cats from Kandy District with 52.6% out of total kills. So far, it seems that the conservation strategies have paid off since the human induced death rates were gone down rapidly during the past 9 months. However, further conservation actions should be implemented.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?
Highest number of threats are due to human caused activities and most are recorded from the Kandy District. This may be due to the habitat fragmentation caused by expanding highway system in the area. This study shows that the conservation strategy has paid off since the human induced death rates were gone down rapidly during the past nine months and it can be further decreased.This could be mere coincidence but further conservation actions are recommended.