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Conservation

Wednesday, 07 August 2013 05:58

SOCIETY ON CONSERVATION ISSUES

DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION (DWLC)

The Society continues to maintain a close relationship and dialogue with the Minister incharge of wildlife and the staff of the DWLC. Some of the highlights of our meetings were :-

ROADWAY THROUGH WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK

The roadway cut through the Wilpattu National Park and open for public transport was opposed by the Society, as it was in violation of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance and detrimental to the Park. The Society together with three other non-governmental organizations fi led objections before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 2010. Despite many sittings the case has not been concluded as yet. The trial date has been fi xed for 7th July 2013.

AMARAWEWA: LEASING AWAY OUR - NATIONAL HERITAGE

Amerawewa. Cleared ForestAmarawewa lies in the Buffer Zone of the Ruhunu National Park (Yala) and is an area of deciduous forest and scrub jungle of vital importance to the fauna and fl ora and environment of the area. It acts, as a buffer between the Park and the several communities that border it, thereby helping to mitigate the humanelephant confl ict. Amarawewa is also host to biophysical activities, that are of importance to both humans and wild creatures alike. It also acts, as a catchment area for a number of seasonal tanks.

This state of environmental equilibrium was under threat. A wide scale clearing of this forest was taking place for the planting of Glyricidia for fuel wood (Dendro Power) to be processed many miles away at a plant in Biyagama, leading to an enormous carbon footprint in transportation Glyricidia sticks from Tissamaharama to Biyagama (Gampaha District). A private company had been allocated 1500 hectares from the Yala National Park buffer zone in Amareawewa for the cultivation of Glyricidia. Should the project be allowed to continue, it will result in irreparable habitat loss and environmental damage to the area. In addition it will worsen the human-elephant conflict.

When all attempt of a settlement failed, the Society together with two other non-governmental organizations fi led our objections to be taken up for hearing before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. All operations have been temporarily suspended. The final outcome is to be decided by court.


PRIVATE CAMPSITES WITHIN NATIONAL PARKS

The growing tendency of allocating permanent campsites, to private organizations within the National Parks was of a serious concern to the Society. The unwarranted behavior carried out at some of these permanent camp sites, within the National Parks has not only dealt a severe blow to the bio-diversity of the area concerned, but to the very survival of animals in their natural habitats. While it was illegal to maintain hotels within National Parks, these camp sites, were operated as mini hotels.

The Society addressed our concerns to the President Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the Patron of the Society, setting out the inherent dangers and it effects to the National Parks. The Society is thankful to the President for his prompt action taken, when he ordered the removed of all unauthorized camp sites operated within the National Parks.


TRAIN ELEPHANT CONFLICT

Train Elephant CasualtyIt has been recorded that over 200 elephants had died during the past few years due to train accidents. The confl ict continues to escalate with a number of recent deaths. The Society persued the matter with the railway Authorities and the Dept of Wildlife Conservation and joint meeting were held.

As a consequence of these efforts the Railway Department has decide to employ advanced technology on an experiential basis. One such method will be to install Thermal Imaging Cameras and Infra-sound Emitters on the trains that ply on the train/ elephant confl ict routes, when the emission would disperse the elephants away from the railway track, when a train is in motion. Results will be monitored and discussed at regular meetings. The Society too has been invited to participate at these meetings.

 

 



NATIONAL SURVEY OF ELEPHENTS

The survey of elephants in Sri Lanka was carried out in August 2011 and the results published in 2012. The Society invited Prof. Charles Santiapillai and Mr. S. Wijemohan who had directed the survey to speak to the Society members and the public on the signifi cance of the elephant survey. The Survey had looked at the structure of the elephant population and composition of herds. The survey had recorded 5879 elephants and had shown, that Sri Lanka has a viable elephant population.

The survey and distribution of elephants would help in the elephant conservation programme now under review. The Society too has been invited to participate in the ongoing conservation planning programme.


ILLEGAL IVORY

Sri Lanka Customs Confi scated IvoryA large illegal consignment of ivory was detected by the Sri Lanka Customs Central Intelligence Unit on 22nd May 2012. The consignment of 359 elephant tusks valued at around Rs. 361 million, believed to be from African Elephants were on their way from Kenya to Dubai via Sri Lanka.

The tusk did not carry the CITES country code markings and hence could well be from illegally illed elephants. Trade in both Asian and African elephant tusks was banned in 1990 under the Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and fl ora (CITES) The Society has complimented the Sri Lanka Customs on their detection. The Society is anxiously following up the outcome of the confi scated ivory.

 

 

 


WHALE AND DOLPHIN WATCHING

The Society’s executive committee members met the Chairman Tourist Board and appraised him of the inherent dangers to the whales, dolphins and the tourist themselves. The meeting has had benefi cial results.

With the infl ux of tourist, under the country’s rapidly expanding tourist development programe, there has been many visitors to watch the whales and dolphins abundant in our waters. It is signifi cant that, many species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in the Sri Lankan waters, including the Blue Whale, Sperm Whale plus numerous dolphin species. Sri Lanka is the most reliable and easiest location to see the Blue Whale, the largest mammal that has ever inhabited this planet.

In response to the Society’s persistence and other similar concerned organizations, stringent new regulations have been drawn up to cover all aspects of the Whale and Dolphin watching industry. The Chairman assured us, that the conditions will apply to the owners and operators of such tour vessels, the crew and the passengers as well. The Society would continue to monitor the implementation of the proposals.


SCHOOLS NATURE CLUB PROGRAMME (SNC)

The Society inculcates the habit of conservation in the younger generation through the School Nature Clubs, in number over 350, distributed in schools islandwide. The Society continues to hold regular seminas, lectures
and educational programmes for these schools.


DEDURU OYA CONSERVATION PROJECT

Planting of Forest Trees. Deduru Oya Left Bank Deduru Oya Dam Under Construction

The Society’s contribution towards greening Sri Lanka has been put into practice by the planting of selected forest trees and fruit trees, along the two banks of the Deduru oya channel and along the reservoir perimeter. The plant nursery for this purpose is maintained at the Minuwangala Maha Vidyalaya at Padeiya, where the teachers and the students are actively engaged in the project. The Society is thankful to Nature Life

International Germany, who continues with financial support for the project.


BIO DIVERSITY GARDEN (BDG) PROJECT. SINHARAJA FOREST RESERVE

Inaugaration of SBG ProjectThe biodiversity garden project on the borders of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, with the participation of the schools in the area was launched by the Society with a well attended seminar in June 2012. The teachers and students with the base school being the Kalawana Gamini Maha Vidyalaya with fi ve other schools, all in the periphery of the Sinharaja Forest reserve participated. Regular meetings and seminars continue to be held to educate the schools on the varied biodiversity and the importance of conserving Sinharaja, the world heritage site.

The Society records its thankful appreciation to the Nations Trust Bank, for their fi nancial support.

 

 

 

 

 


DIYAKOTHAKANDA REFORESTATION PROJECT

picture courtesy Sunday TimesThe Diyakothakanda Reforestation Programme carried out by the Society in the Kalutara District is progressing well. The plant nursery is maintained by the Dikhena Maha Vidyalaya SNC who are energetic and committed. The fi re belts stand cleared and maintained well.

The Society is looking at the exercise as a 30 year project with a “Carbon Footprint” objective. The Society is thankful to the sponsors Nature Life International Germany, who are complimentary of the Society’s progress and continues to fi nance the project.

 

 

 

 

 

WNPS LAUNCHES WEBSITE

Keeping pace with modernity, the oldest conservation group in the country, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka launched its revamped website on 2nd August 2012 at a simple ceremony at its Head Offi ce at Battaramulla.

The WNPS website not only has information about its activities, but it also has a gallery of beautiful photographs. The revamped website www.wnpssl.org is now accessible.


WORLD CONSERVATION CONGRESS (WCC) 2012

Courtesy IUCN. South KoreaThe International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) holds its World Conservation Congress once in four years. The WCC 2012 was held in JEJU. SOUTH KOREA, when 175 countries and over 10,000 participants in the environmental fi eld, convened, to attend the congress. The president Ravi Deraniyagala was a member of the Sri Lankan delegation to the congress.

The theme of the congress was the resilience of nature. The opening address was by the IUCN President. Dr. Ashok Khosla and was followed by the President of South Korea Lee Myung-bak. Among the many other addresses a message from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was also presented.

The representatives from many member countries made presentations to set out the efforts they were taking to conserve nature and the environment. A unique feature of the congress was the daily sessions allocated to world leaders, global environmentalist and chief executive offi cers of major multinational organization to answer the panel questions to express their views under core themes-climate, food, security, development, people, governance and life. The views expressed were to be an integral part of the IUCN strategic plan for implementation during the next four year period.