Leaving Footprints

Taking nothing but memories!

Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project

Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)                    –                Endangered

Sri Lanka

Project Description
The Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project is based in central Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, and its surrounding wetlands. The first aim of the project is to document the current status of fishing cats in urban wetlands after their post-war development. This is being achieved by setting camera traps, conducting surveys and looking for presence of cats, for example via pugmarks or spoor.

The second aim is to understand the behaviour of these animals and how they are adapting to a human dominated landscape. This is accomplished via the GPS collaring of trapped and released cats which are subsequently tracked.

What’s a Fishing Cat? 
For those of you that have never heard of a fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrnius) I’ll give a brief rundown of how fantastic they are. Well I say brief, there are a heap of interesting facts about this cat, i’ll keep it as concise as i can.

  1. They occur in Central and South-East Asia
  2. Out of the 37 species of cat they are one of only two species that are adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle with
    • Semi-retractable claws to aid in the capture of slippery streamlined prey.
    • The ability to flatten their ears completely to their head to avoid ingestion of water when diving.
    • Slight webbing between their toes to gain traction on muddy water fronts.
    •  A short muscular tail which is thought to act as a rudder while swimming
    • A double layer fur coat which partially waterproofs them.
  3. Highly dependent on water habitats, such as, marshes, tidal creeks, wetlands and mangroves
  4. They weight 10 – 16kg and their body shape gives them the appearance of a body building cat, short, stocky and very muscular.
  5. Diet consists mainly of fish but will also take crustaceans, birds, lizards, and small mammals such as civets and porcupines.
  6. Will readily swim across bodies of water and dive into them to catch fish.
  7. One hunting method involves tapping the surface of the water with a paw mimicking insect movements. Once fish are attracted the cat will either pounce into the water and grab the fish or scoop it out.
  8. As with most species of cat, the fishing cat is solitary and mainly nocturnal.
  9. They are AWESOME!