Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 160513505
Obtaining a better distribution map of the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) in Sri Lanka
The Jungle Cat Project: Obtaining a better distribution map of the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) in Sri Lanka
Very little is known about jungle cats in Sri Lanka. They seem to be found in dry zone forests, near urban areas in the dry zone. The question is raised whether this is a cat of the dry/intermediate zone or whether its noted absence in the wet zone is simply lack of data. Nothing is known about its home ranges or densities.
The objective of the proposed project was to widen existing knowledge about the current distribution of jungle cats in Sri Lanka as an initial step to a focused study of the ecology, behaviour and threats to this species.
Initially a website was built by software engineer Mr. Niroshan Mirando, introducing the cat, the project, and the principal investigator, Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala. (http://www.junglecatsrilanka.com). A call to action was made via an email campaign sent out to amateur wildlife photographers and wildlife, providing a link to the website and asking them to submit their photographs of jungle cats with the location that the picture was taken. (The website contains a submission form.) A Facebook page was also commenced (Jungle cats Sri Lanka).
Since the website was published on November 7th 2016, to date (Aug 12th 2017) there have been 458 users and 751 sessions, of which 54.15% were males and 45.85% females. Most of the viewers are in the 25-34 and 18-24 age cohorts (33.50% and 27.50% respectively); however, 5.50% of the viewers are over 65. There have been 530 likes in Facebook, with a reach of 11,743.
The pictures received so far (17) have now been added (duly credited) to a Google map. This has almost doubled the number of previously noted locations of this species. A map of all jungle cat locations, overlaid with maps of land use and of Sri Lanka’s unique reservoirs has been developed. Niche modelling, using MaxEnt software will be used to predict other locations.
Currently ongoing is a parallel study by Anya Ratnayeke and Ashan Thudugala, who have commenced monitoring the home ranges of small cats, including jungle cats in various national parks of the island. Their data, and the results of the current study can be then used to develop a tailored strategy to understand the ecology and behaviour of this species, the threats to its survival, as well as the formulation of conservation actions.
As a consequence of the success of this project on jungle cats, a similar website and a call to action regarding rusty-spotted cats has been developed and will be online by the end of August.
Project 160513505 location - Sri Lanka, Asia