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Monday, 16 September 2019 08:41

WNPS additional monthly lecture on ‘giant crocs to sea serpents’ by Dr. Ruchira Somaweera

The Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS) has organized an additional monthly lecture for September titled ‘From giant crocs to sea serpents: understanding ecology for better conservation of reptiles’ by Dr. Ruchira Somaweera.

It will be held on September 23 at 6.00 pm at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo 7.

Reptiles create more fear and fascination in humans than any other living group of animals. For many people, they are nothing but slimy, scaly or scary creatures. However, reptiles play crucial, but often ‘silent’ ecological, economic, and cultural roles in ecosystems and societies throughout the world.

Despite this importance, 1/5th of the world’s estimated 10,500 species of reptiles are threatened with extinction, and we hardly know anything about another 1/5th. These knowledge gaps are most prominent in the tropics, including in islands like Sri Lanka, hindering effective conservation and management actions. What can we learn from the scientific ecological research in other parts of the world to better understand and conserve the fascinating reptiles of Sri Lanka? Let’s take a global journey.

Dr Ruchira Somaweera is an evolutionary biologist with a broad research interest on how reptiles adapt to a changing world. Having completed his PhD at University of Sydney, he is currently a research fellow at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia and University of Western Australia.

His current research subjects range from sea snakes in the Indian Ocean, to crocodiles in remote Kimberley outback of Australia, to reptiles of Komodo national park in Indonesia, to the lizards in ‘novel ecosystems’ of Sri Lanka.

Ruchira’s work has led to many research publications and four books on herpetology, including the most comprehensive field guides to snakes and lizards of Sri Lanka. He is a member of several IUCN reptile specialists’ and redlisting committees. As a National Geographic Explorer and a scientist of the STEM Professionals in School program of the Australian government, he is actively involved in the inspiring the general public and the next generation of biologists on wildlife and nature conservation.