Shathuki Perera


My love for nature began with my childhood in Sri Lanka, which was filled with the flora and fauna of the tropics. I spent my evenings in my garden, atop the guava tree, observing beetles on the branches, and following butterflies in the flowers. If I was lucky, I might spot a monitor lizard or some rat snakes mating (or as I thought then, cuddling)!

Ever since I relocated to the UK to pursue my studies, I have been astounded by the remarkable efforts dedicated to preserving nature. This experience has led me to recognise the limited opportunities for conservation in developing countries, including my own. Consequently, I have dedicated myself to the mission of safeguarding and actively contributing to the preservation of natural ecosystems worldwide, as well as within my homeland.

Research Interests

My area of research expertise lies in integrating social sciences with conservation practices and involving local communities. Hailing from Sri Lanka and having completed internships with organisations like the Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka and Blue Resources Trust, I have personally witnessed the obstacles faced when striving to achieve environmental objectives while addressing socio-economic pressures. I am determined to make significant contributions through scientific research in developing nations, ensuring their long-term prosperity, and avoiding the pitfall of detached scientific approaches often referred to as ‘helicopter science.’

Having engaged in various research opportunities during my academic journey, my interests have flourished beyond conservation. I have also developed a keen fascination for ecology, animal behaviour, and plant sciences, particularly enjoying the integration of diverse disciplines. Notably, I had the privilege of delving into the field of dendroecology alongside the SALGO team, where I explored the application of ecological principles in conservation efforts. This experience has deepened my commitment to specialising in the study of ecosystems at the macroscale, considering the wide range of species that captivate my curiosity.

Current Research

During the summer following my second year, I had the opportunity to intern with Blue Resources Trust, where I delved into the fascinating realm of The Sri Lanka Elasmobranch Project. This experience ignited an interest in the conservation of threatened species of sharks and rays. It also made me realise the potential of leveraging the valuable resources provided by the Mbiol course to contribute to this ongoing Elasmobranch project in Sri Lanka.

My research focus revolves around unravelling the role of local shark meat consumption in driving its exploitation. Under the co-supervision of Trisha Gupta, who is conducting similar research in India, I aim to comprehend the complex socio-economic factors contributing to the overexploitation of elasmobranchs. Given the striking similarities in social contexts and economic gains between the two nations, I can draw upon techniques and studies conducted in India to inform my own work.

While extensive studies have examined the dominant driver of shark exploitation, namely the shark fin trade to consumers in Southeast Asia, the local consumption of shark meat within the restaurant industry in Sri Lanka remains largely unexplored. In particular, my research focuses on Negombo as the primary study site, aiming to trace the supply chain from the landing site in the Negombo harbour to the restaurants along the Western coastline. Through this research, I hope to contribute valuable insights that can inform conservation strategies targeting the drivers of elasmobranch exploitation at a local scale.

Brief CV

Intern/Collaborator – Blue Resources Trust (2022-2023)

Research Assistant – SALGO team (2023)

Volunteer – Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka (2022)

Volunteer – Birmingham Botanical Gardens (2021)


Other experience

President- Oxford University Sri Lanka Society (2022-2023)

Equal Opportunities Officer – Jesus College (2022-2023)