Fishing Cat in the wild ..

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Fishing Cat in Sri Lanka

In the late 19th century the English naturalist Robert Armitage Sterndale (1884) maintained that Fishing Cats occur in Ceylon, and known in Singhalese as Handoon-deeva.

In May 2003, John Seidensticker wrote :

A Fishing Cat was recently reported seen crossing the main road leading to the Parliament. The news appeared on a local naturalist's listserv, which catalyzed several others to send in their own observations. This was remarkable because the observations were from residential areas in Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka.
After spending some time asking around to find out who had seen Fishing Cats and where we might expect to find them, we settled on the Bellanwila-Attidya Sanctuary in the Weras Ganga-Attidiya area in south Colombo. This sanctuary, a 372-hectare (1.4 square-mile) patch of wetland with a rich fauna, surrounded by residential areas, is a mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the Ratmalana Airport.
The sanctuary included a portion of an old canal-lake system built in the early colonial period by the Dutch. This was the key to Fishing Cat habitat.

On 19 December 2011 Andrew Kittle from the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Sri Lanka, sent GPS locations of known Fishing Cat locations (sightings, interviews using photos, scat). He wrote:

Obviously there are many more than this but these are confirmed in our data base with evidence. One interesting thing is the inclusion of areas in the north. Previously distribution maps have shown Fishing Cat to be only south of Central province. We have conducted survey interviews in the north (Padawiya, Mallawi, Giant's tank) which is now being resettled post war and are getting reports of Fishing Cat regularly.

In the following map, the markers show Andrew's coordinates. For further information about individual locations : click on the marker to zoom in.


  1. Sterndale, R. A. 1884. Felis viverrina. Pages 187–188 in: Natural History of the Mammalia of India and Ceylon. Thacker, Spink, and Co., Calcutta.
  2. Seidensticker, J. 2003. Fishing Cats Enjoy City Life. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Spotlight on Zoo Science, 26 May 2003.

Text and map compiled by Angie Appel, December 2011

Suggested citation:

Appel, A. 2011. Fishing Cat in Sri Lanka. Fishing Cat Working Group.