Anya Ratnayaka

Anya Ratnayaka

Founder / Primary Investigator

Anya is a graduate in Wildlife and Conservation Management from the University of Queensland, Australia, and is currently a PhD Candidate at the same university. A member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission: Cat Specialist Group, Wildlife Conservation Network Scholar, Re:wild Associate Scientist, and a member of the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance, she has a strong interest in Sri Lankan wildlife and in particular the ecology and conservation of urban mesocarnivores. In 2017, she co-founded the non-profit Small Cat Advocacy and Research and she’s currently conducting research on the world’s only known hyper-urban population of fishing cats, found in Colombo.

A chance encounter with an orphaned fishing cat in 2012, made her pivot from studying the Sri Lankan leopard, and focus solely on this elusive, amphibious feline. She founded the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project in 2013, and her research focuses on studying how the species is adapting to the rapid urbanisation, while raising the species profile amongst stakeholders and the public. This project was the first in the world to use GPS collars to track this species and is the first in Sri Lanka to collar and track female fishing cats.

Anya is a strong believer in the fact that, communities must be involved in conservation efforts in order to protect a species. Therefore, she works on spreading awareness and interest about the species amongst the general public. She also she works closely with government agencies like the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation, Urban Development Authority and the Road Development Authority, to uncover the secret life of this endangered species, and understand how we can better protect it, along with its urban habitats.

In charge of:
  • Overall running of the project.
  • Managing field work.
    • GPS tagging and tracking.
    • Camera trapping.
  • Coordinating public awareness and outreach.
  • Raising funds for the project.