- Jonathan Gnanapragasam
After the completion of my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) from Deakin University, Melbourne I was offered the job of Research Assistant at WWCT with whom I had interned in 2016. This was my first full time job and it suited me very well because it allowed me to apply everything I had learnt during my degree and since the job exposed me to working in the field I was very happy to take on this role.
My first week at work involved mapping sites for camera traps in estates in Dickoya and familiarising myself with the locations where I would be working. I also compiled a list of estates in the Bogawantalawa area where WWCT were hoping to extend their study area to compare the difference in leopard abundance between the two regions, while also hoping to learn which estates in the Bogawantalawa area were utilised the most by Sri Lanka’s apex predator. While working at the office I also went through the WWCT website in order to update the details on it and also checked to see if all the links were functioning properly.
Maya Situnayake, a Masters student studying in the Netherland’s had finished her field work analysing leopard scat to find out what prey species the leopards in the hill country preferred. I catalogued all her samples plus the samples which were yet to be analysed from Horton Plains, Wilpattu and Peak Wilderness area.
Both Dr. Andrew Kittle and I went up to the field on three occasions. The first and the third involved us checking and setting up camera traps, scouting locations for the camera traps, meeting with estate managers and me getting to know the place. It was wonderful to sit out on the porch of the Dunkeld Conservation Station Bungalow at night and see the hills illuminated by lights from lamps in houses, star gazing and the vehicle lights which would penetrate the landscape as they travelled on the winding roads.