About Me

I am a PhD Candidate at The University of Queensland, with a strong interest in Sri Lankan wildlife and in particular the ecology and conservation of urban mesocarnivores. In 2017, I co-founded the non-profit Small Cat Advocacy & Research and founded the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project in 2013, through which I study the ecology and behaviour of the world’s only known hyper-urban population of fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus), found in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

My research focuses on understanding how this species is adapting to rapid urbanisation and wetland modification, while raising the its profile amongst stakeholders and the public.

My team and I work closely with the Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation, and the Urban Development Authority to uncover the secret life of this endangered species, and understand how we can better protect it, along with its urban habitats.

Apart from my research, I am a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission: Cat Specialist Group, Wildlife Conservation Network Scholar, Re:wild Associate Scientist, and a member of the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance which is a collective of experts working on the species across its global range in South and Southeast Asia.

Sirius and Vega

These two are the loves of my life and my world revolves around them. So here are my babies.

Sirius (on the chair) is a Great Dane, Rottweiler, Doberman, Ridgeback, American Pit Bull Terrier, German Shepherd mix. Vega (on the ground) is a German Shepherd, Rottweiler mix.
Peer-reviewed publications

Ratnayaka, A. A. W., Serieys, L. E. K., Hangawatte, T. A., Leung, L. K.-P., & Fisher, D. O.(2023). Plastic ingestion by fishing cats suggests trophic transfer in urban wetlands. Environmental Pollution, 316. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.120694

Miththapala, S., Dertien, J., Liyanage, N., Mirando, N., Ratnayaka, A., Thudugala, A., . . . Goonatilake, S. (2022). Using citizen science to study a mesocarnivore: The jungle cat Felis chaus in Sri Lanka. Oryx, 1-7. https://doi:10.1017/S0030605321000764

Adhya, T., Bagaria, P., Dey, P., Herranz Muñoz, V., Ratnayaka, AAW., Thudugala, A., Aravind, NA.,, & Sanderson, JG. 2022. “On the Edge: Identifying Priority Areas for Conservation of Fishing Cat, a Threatened Wetland Felid, amidst Rapidly Altering Freshwater Landscapes.” 2022.01.16.476498.

Ratnayaka, A. A. W., Serieys, L. E. K., Prasad, T., Leighton, G. R. M., Sanderson, J. G., & Leung, L. K.-P. (2021). Urban habitat use and home ranges of fishing cats in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Mammalian Biology, 102, 217-277. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42991-021-00198-z

Ratnayaka, A. A. W. (2021). First pictures of fishing cats in hyper urban landscape Colombo Sri Lanka. CATnews, 73, 19-20. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353820123_First_pictures_of_fishing_cats_in_hyper_urban_landscape_Colombo_Sri_Lanka

Mugerwa, B., Adhya, T., Ratnayaka, A., Thudugala, A., Napolitano, C., & Sanderson, J. (2020). Are we doing enough to protect the World’s small wild cats? CATnews, 71 (Spring 2020), 42–47.

Ratnayaka, A. (2017). A Dance With Dragons. Loris, Volume 27 (5&6), 20-21.

Mukherjee, S., Appel, A., Duckworth, J. W., Sanderson, J., Dahal, S., Willcox, D. H. A., Herranz Muñoz, V., Malla, G., Ratnayaka, A. A. W., Kantimahanti, M., Thudugala, A., Thaung, R., & Rahman, H. (2016). Prionailurus viverrinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T18150A50662615. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T18150A50662615.en