Highlights of the month
The Fishing Cat is a medium sized cat that is widespread across Sri Lanka. It was globally classified as an endangered species by the IUCN in 2008.
Description: This cat can be identified by the its olive green grey coat which has dark spots in horizontal streaks running across the length of its body. Its underside is white and it has black ears with central white spots. Adults weigh from 5- 15 kilograms.
Habitats: Fishing cats are strongly associated with wetland, and are typically found in swamps and marshy areas, oxbow lakes, reed beds, tidal creeks and mangrove areas and are more scarce around smaller, fast-moving watercourses.
Behavior: As the name implies, fish is their main prey. A one-year study of scats in India’s Keoladeo National Park found that fish comprised approximately three-quarters of the diet, with the remainder consisting of birds, insects, and small rodents. Molluscs, reptiles, and amphibians are also taken. They mimic insects by lightly tapping the water, so fish think there are insects on the water, attracting them. They can either swim or rush after it, or they could scoop it out using the paws.
Where can I look for Fishing Cat when on tour?
Fishing Cat are nocturnal and despite being widespread in Sri Lanka remain elusive. Talangama Wetlands bordering Colombo, the wetlands around Jetwing Vil Uyana in Sigiriya and Kalametiya Sanctuary are some sites where Fishing Cat have been encountered on a more reliable basis.
Did You Know? When swimming, the fishing cat may use its short, flattened tail like a rudder, helping control its direction in the water.
· Wozencraft, W. Christopher (16 November 2005). “Order Carnivora (pp. 532-628)”. In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). pp. 544. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
· Mukherjee, S., Sanderson, J., Duckworth, W., Melisch, R., Khan, J., Wilting, A., Sunarto, S., Howard, J.G. (2010). “Prionailurus viverrinus”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
· Mukherjee, S. (1989) Ecological separation of four sympatric carnivores in Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India. M. Sc. Thesis, Wildlife Institute of India