The Main Objectives

This focus of this research is twofold. The first objective is to understand and document the current status of fishing cats in Colombo’s urban wetlands, during post-war development. This will be done by setting up camera traps in selected study locations, conducting surveys with communities living around these habitats, and looking for fishing cat presence within these wetlands.

The second is to understand the behaviour of these cats in these urban habitats. To accomplish this, we will use cutting-edge GPS/GSM collars to track fishing cat movement, understand their activity patterns, and identify how they are adapting to human dominated landscapes.

The findings of the study will deepen our understanding of the ecology of the species. We will thus be able to use the fishing cat as a flagship species to conduct conservation awareness and education programs on the importance of urban wetlands. The data we gather during this project will also assist policy makers to identify and design a sustainable system of green corridors and other infrastructure that will help convert Colombo into a “green city”.



The Team


Anya Ratnayaka
Principal Investigator
After falling in love with a fishing cat in 2013, I decided that it was time to jump off the very overcrowded big cat bandwagon, and join the small cat one instead. Over the last few years I’ve had the honour of being a foster mum to a feisty orphan rusty-spotted cat kitten, and stalk fishing cats in their urban habitat, while trying not to kill myself (I’m very clumsy).


Maduranga Ranaweera
Field Assistant
A tuk tuk driver by trade, Maduranga fell in love with the work when he helped set up cameras one fine morning. He’s been with the project since it’s inception and has become an invaluable field assistant. His blue tuk tuk is now the urban fishing cat mobile and can often be seen lugging trap cages and camera traps to and from our study sites.


Image by Ranushi Siripala

Project Affiliations and Funders



Citizen Science And What It’s All About!

Citizen science is a form of scientific research conducted by amateur/nonprofessional scientists. It has also taken off over recent years, as it has helped researchers around the world in numerous different ways. The best example is Snapshot Serengeti.

So How Can You Help?

You have a chance to play apart in our work, and help save these magnificent wild cats. It’s quite simple.

If you happen to come across a fishing cat, whether it crossed the road in front of you, was in your garden, in a marsh or a national park, or just dead/injured at the side of the road, please email the details to

We would especially like to know where you saw the cat (GPS points or have an exact location). If you have a photograph to go with it, even better! This information will help us identify the distribution of fishing cats in Colombo, as well as other parts of the country.

Comments 4

  1. Hi, I was wondering if you had any employment or volunteering/internship opportunities for graduates? I have recently graduated with a BSc Biology in the UK and have a keen interest in urban carnivores that I would like to explore before I settle down to a MSc. It would be great to hear from you, I am happy to send a CV and discuss further. Any other ideas you may have would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards, Sophie
  2. Manilal De Mel
    Hi Anya, I saw a nice photo you have uploaded of a fishing cat in our neighbourhood. Could you please send it to me . Thanks, Manilal PS: sorry we missed your talk last week . Hope it went well.
    • Anya Ratnayaka
      Done :D
  3. John Josselson
    Anya, I am watching the documentary called - Cats - right now and it is incredible! The first cat was the Clouded Leopard, an amazing Cat. And then a segue over to this beautiful Woman and her cool crew searching the wetlands of Sri Lanka for a fishing cat! I don't know what else to say except that I wish to somehow help you all towards these magnificent Spirits, the Cat kingdom. I am becoming less surprised, simultaneously more well settled with the startlingly good similarities where the Clouded Leopard can move as well as the Monkey and your own Love for the Fishing Cats which are like an amazing fish! You are the Principal Investigator and Steward, as well your sturdy crew. Always, John

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