This is an oldie, but definitely a goodie!

These six camera trap photographs seem pretty normal. There were about 15 more, prior to this, showing this porcupine just going about its business with a friend. They shuffled through the leaf litter, nibbled at a twig here, cronched on a pond apple there, and plodded about in their dopey porcupine way.

It was all very routine, until I noticed something odd in the background. Two glowing orbs floating just above the surface of the water way at the back. They were faint. They could have been two dancing fireflies. But each time I pressed the forward arrow key on my keyboard, they seemed to drift closer and closer, barely creating a ripple on the waters surface.

The porcupine seemed unfazed. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was just another night of searching for food for them. I on the other hand froze in terror. This reminded me of the scene from IT (2017), when Pennywise emerged from the flooded basement in Bill’s house – it doesn’t help that clowns just scare the crapola out of me.

I must admit that at first, I thought it was a fishing cat. But no, it was too slow. Maybe some fishermen using two flashlights? Mmm still no, they are way too aligned and moved in such a streamlines way.

Then it hit me! It was one of the saltwater crocodiles stalking the porcupines! There was no dramatic capture, as the porcupine disappeared – unaware of the fact that it almost ended up as a midnight snack – but just seeing the chilling way in which that croc calmly floated over, was enough to make me think twice before working at the edge of the water in the future.


My submission to Small Wild Cat Conservation News 2016, with a few additional titbits.

Getting people in Sri Lanka to pay attention to anything that does not involve the Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is definitely a challenge. Many do not find smaller mammals very interesting, which makes getting funding from local companies especially hard. However, in November 2015, I approached MAS Active Linea Intimo (MAS ­LI), a branch of MAS Holdings, which is one of the largest manufacturers of apparel in the region. Chances are, they manufacture a lot of the fancy sports wear you own! The CEO of MAS ­LI, Chelan Goonetilleke is a known wildlife enthusiast, so I tried my luck in pitching my proposal to him. While driving to the factory in the Board of Investments (BOI) zone in Biyagama, east of Colombo, I kept going over my presentation in my mind, but tried to play it cool. I had been turned down numerous times before, and Chelan had only 30 minutes to sit with me, so I knew I was not going to get a second shot at it.


After about 2 years of science, it is finally time to get the proverbial ball rolling on the whole awareness aspect of my work. I’m a strong believer that awareness and education plays a massive role in conservation efforts. Yes, science does a lot, but most people aren’t scientists. Have you tried reading a journal article? They are really technical and unless you know the background, can be quite daunting. So how could I expect someone from a non-science background to read the sciency stuff? But, awareness is fun, so I am glad that we got funds to do this!