international conference on Wildcats of South Asia was held in Colombo on the 1st
& 2nd of November 2015. Initiated by the Wildlife and Nature
Protection Society of Sri Lanka, an organising committee including WWCT
trustees were instrumental in ensuring a diverse and in-depth programme. The
conference was attended by distinguished wildlife conservation researchers as
well as young upcoming researchers and saw lectures from participants from countries
such as England, France, USA, India, Sweden and Sri Lanka. The main aim of the
conference was to share research with each other and to discuss and come up
with solutions to problems faced by WildCats in South Asia and worldwide.
were very fortunate to have in particular Professor David Macdonald from Oxford
University WILDCRU, who also brought to light issues faced in Africa. He also
spoke on the recent scandal involving Cecil the Lion which was one of his study
subjects which was shot dead by a trophy hunter, highlighting the varied
aspects of conservation issues.
James Sanderson discussed problems faced by small wildcats around the world and
stated that there was a need for increased research and funding for small cats.
Dr. Kittle and Ms. Watson shared their on-going research findings on the Sri
Lankan leopard and were able to provide a clear picture of the distribution of
leopards in the country revealing the correlation between forest cover and leopard
presence. Human leopard incidents across
the country were also presented and focus areas identified.
Wildlife Departments veterinary surgeon Dr. Vijitha Perera shared the causes of
death from his post mortems of leopards and other wild cats of Sri Lanka.
Shomita Mukherjee spoke on wildcats of India with a focus on their present and
historical distribution. Dr. Meena
Venkataram shared the problems faced by the Gir lion population in India and
pointed out the similarities of threats faced by wildcats in India and Sri
couple of other talks on on-going work on the urban fishing cat in Colombo by
Anya Ratnayake and Kandy by Ashan Thadugalla in Sri Lanka were also
presented. Poaching of leopards and
parasitological impacts on wildcats of Sri Lanka were also discussed. Finally the status of captive wildcats with a
focus on the Sri Lankan leopard, by Frederic Houssay was presented.
the conference was a success as it achieved its purpose of bringing together
researchers and possible collaborations.
One outcome of this conference we hope will be the establishment of a
small Sri Lanka working group for wildcats.
Leopard Project Team