THE SRI LANKAN FISHING CAT
It is common knowledge that cats don’t like water and prefer to stay away from it all costs. Larger animals of the species such as the Tiger and the Jaguar defeat this notion by adapting to the surrounding wetlands of their habitat. In Sri Lanka however we are home to the Sri Lankan Fishing Cat a very unique creature that has adopted to not only live in wetlands, but thrive in it.
What makes this animal unique is the layered structure of it’s thick fur. Like a polar bear, the fishing cat has a thick coat of fur which keeps water from penetrating it’s skin allowing the cat to maintain temperature whilst underwater and to survive the harshest weathers. As per their name they do consume fish, but their diet includes small birds, snakes and rodents which makes them adept hunters on land and water.
They tend to be solitary creatures that engage in mating rituals many times a year. They tend to avoid human contact which has made this creature difficult to research on. A dedicated team of researchers have been tirelessly engaging with this animal for many years.
The fishing cat habitat ranges in and around wetlands of Sri Lanka but there have been sightings in the more recent developed areas such as Nawala in Colombo. They main threat for this creature is the rapid urbanisation of its habitat. In Sri Lanka wetlands are being converted into urban areas and with it the fishing cat loses it’s hunting grounds. There are new reports of sightings of the cats in urban areas hunting domestic fish from ponds. Whilst this maybe a quirky point, there have been increases of human contact with these creatures which don’t end well.
Due to its rarity it is considered “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and is protected by the Flora and Fauna act in Sri Lanka. For this animal to survive and thrive, preservation of its habitat, the wetlands must be secured. Education programs to the residents of the area too much be provided to know what to do with this very rare and unique creature.