Endangered Cats Endangered Lands: Workshops on Urban Wetland Conservation For Schoolchildren

EFL launched a series of workshops on urban wetlands for schoolchildren in the Colombo District on the 9th of February. The event was held in partnership with the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLLRDC) at the Biodiversity Study Park in Thalawathugoda. Over a hundred students from ages 14-17 representing 8 national and provincial schools in the proximity of urban wetlands were present at the launch.

The workshops enabled students to get a firsthand experience of urban wetlands in the setting of the Thalawathugoda Wetland, learning about urban wetland management through the fishing cat as a flagship species. Making full use of the unique venue, after the introductory lectures students were split into four groups for different field sessions. Our researcher Anya Ratnayaka conducted a session on fishing cat identification, giving the students a more practical idea of what conservation work entails by sharing her research methods of collaring and trapping fishing cats. Representatives from the SLLRDC held the other field sessions on water and soil quality testing, flower classification and bird watching.

Given that 68% of students who attended the workshop had never visited a wetland before, despite being from schools proximate to urban wetlands, it is essential that the importance of these vulnerable ecosystems is understood by younger generations.

Through the US Embassy’s Youth Empowerment Grant, EFL will continue to conduct such awareness programmes on urban wetland conservation for schoolchildren throughout the year.

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