A symposium on wild felids from 1-3 November


Fishing cat​Rusty-spotted-cat

Rusty spotted cat

It is well known that the leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is Sri Lanka’s top predator – but has it always been so or has it previously shared space with lions or tigers on this island?
The leopard has become an iconic species locally, drawing tourists from around the world, but they are being impacted by habitat loss, illegal poaching and even reckless driving in Sri Lanka. How might this affect the population as a whole? What lessons can be learned from other regional populations?
What about Sri Lanka’s other wild cats? The Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrina) has partially webbed toes which enable it effectively to hunt in aquatic systems but does it only live near water? The Jungle cat (Felis chaus) has large, tufted ears which allow it to hear the movements of rodents in the grass and pounce, but what else does it eat? The beautiful rusty spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is the smallest wild cat in the world, but where is it found and what are the threats to its survival?
In order to answer these questions, and many more, researchers are working hard to study these elusive species in the wild. On 1-3 November in Mount Lavinia, The Symposium of South Asian Wild Cats Past and Present is bringing together local, regional and international scientists and students to present their work and discuss their findings.

The goal of this meeting is to better our collective understanding of these important predators through the sharing of knowledge and building of partnerships. In this way it is hoped that we can highlight ongoing research, update interested parties about the current status of the relevant species and identify knowledge gaps that can be targeted for further/future study. As predators, these species are of potentially profound importance to the ecosystems of which they are a part and it is only armed with knowledge of their behaviour and ecology that we can implement effective conservation and management strategies to ensure their long-term survival.

Dr. David Macdonald, an internationally renowned scientist who has pioneered research on the social ecology of carnivores will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Macdonald is the founder and Director of Oxford University’s illustrious Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU).  The symposium is presently structured into four sessions: ‘Cats of the Past’ chaired by Professor Lars Werdelin of the Swedish Museum of Natural History; ‘Big Cats of South Asia’ chaired by Dr. Andrew Kittle of the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Sri Lanka; ‘Small Cats of South Asia’ chaired by Dr. Jim Sanderson, founder of the Small Cat Conservation Alliance; and ‘Cats of Sri Lanka’ chaired by Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala and University of Colombo Professor Devaka Weerakoon.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/490159/A-symposium-on-wild-felids-from-1-3-November#sthash.Cn3DlMs1.dpuf

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