About Me

I am a graduate in Wildlife and Conservation Management from the University of Queensland, Australia, and I’m currently a PhD Candidate at the same university. 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, I have 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 I’m currently conducting research on the world’s only known hyper-urban population of fishing cats, found in Colombo.

A chance encounter with an orphaned fishing cat in 2012, made me pivot from studying the Sri Lankan leopard, and focus solely on this elusive, amphibious feline. I founded the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project in 2013, and my research focuses on studying how the species is adapting to the rapid urbanisation, while raising the species profile amongst stakeholders and the public. This project was the first in the world to use GPS collars to track this species and is the first in Sri Lanka to collar and track female fishing cats.

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.

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

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.

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