Archive for the ‘Environmental Events’ Category

Need of using innovation in wildlife conservation stressed

September 19, 2019

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/190915/news/snake-specialist-charmed-by-the-attention-368310.html  Published on SundayTimes on 15.09.2019

WildLanka is the annual symposium of the Department of Wildlife Conservation that brings together wildlife researchers and administrators of the country. All keynote speeches were delivered by experts from other fields – one was an ICT expert, while the other two are engineers.

Chandana Sooriyabandara – the DG of Wildlife

DWC head Chandana Sooriyabandara at the symposium

Innovative solutions devised collectively by experts are needed to address wildlife challenges, was the message that emerged from speeches at a symposium on ‘Innovation for Conservation’, held at Waters Edge from September 2-3.

The first speech was delivered by the group chief information officer and the center head for Virtusa Sri Lanka, Madu Ratnayake.

“When we say innovation, often the technological innovation comes into our mind. But there can be innovation in other means that can help to achieve conservation successes. The way we work, methods, work process are some of the areas that can be improved by innovation,” he said.

Delivering the keynote address on “Using Technology in protecting wildlife and mitigating human-wildlife conflicts,’’ Mr Heminda Jayaweera, the chief operating officer of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology, stressed the importance of identifying the issue before providing a solution.

The engineer said that innovative solutions can emerge from the collective efforts of experts from different fields.

The Minister of Wildlife and Tourism, Mr John Amaratunge was chief guest of the WildLanka symposium.

“Through WildLanka, the department aims to encourage research on wildlife, which is required in taking management decisions in conservation. More importantly, we want to improve the research capability of the department itself, while encouraging wildlife officers to carry out more research on relevant fields,’’ said Chandana Sooriyabandara, the director general of DWC.

Held for the sixth year, WildLanka 2019 witnessed 46 research papers. Twenty of these were presented by wildlife officers of the DWC and the rest by researchers at universities and other institutions. The presentations were judged by experts and recognised at the end of symposium.

The research papers based on presentations made at the symposium are published in WildLanka, the journal of the department. The DWC has been publishing this quarterly science journal since 2006. The symposium is its annual event.

“WildLanka is a peer-reviewed journal where the papers are assessed for accuracy and quality by an editorial panel of experts. Experts from India, Malaysia and the US are also part of the WildLanka editorial board,” said Chief Editor, Ms Nilanthi Rajapakse.

There has been a gradual increase in the contribution of research papers to the WildLanka journal and it is encouraging, she said. For example, over 75 papers were presented at the symposium, whereas only 46 was selected, Ms Rajapakse, said.

A deputy director of DWC, Ranjan Marasinghe, said the department also tries to use technology in conservation and management
The DWC introduced the SMART (Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool) patrolling in a number of national parks to measure, evaluate and improve the effectiveness of wildlife law enforcement patrols and site-based conservation. SMART helps the patrolling groups to collect field data.

Technology tools for wildlife research
 The three-day symposium of Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s Asia-Pacific chapter (ATBC-AP) held this week involving about 400 scientists (with half of them foreign) working on tropical biodiversity also demonstrated instances of using innovative methods in wildlife study.Lakimini Abeywardhana, who studied IT and is doing post-graduate studies at University of Colombo, presented her research developing an application to identify tiger beetles. This is a rare groups of bugs and this illustrates how experts from different fields can assist wildlife research.

“This was started towards the end of 2017. Not having images due to their endemicity and rareness has been an issue and I’m now trying to increase the accuracy of the app with limited images,” she said.

Tharaka Kusuminda, a doctoral student at University of Ruhuna illustrated how he used sound to identify the bat species, the painted bat.

“Bats use ultrasound to find their pathway and food and these are out of our hearing range. To be sure whether a particular species of bat is in an area, rigorous observation has to be done. Sometimes, you need to catch one. But I identified the frequency of the painted bat and now we could record the sound and by analysing, we could find out the presence of painted bats,’’ Mr Kusuminda said.

Catharina Karlsson, a researcher of frogs, shared information about innovative identifying devices she used for her doctoral study at Malaysia’s Kinabalu Park.

“There are about 15 species of frog in the study, but they are so tiny and usually hidden under logs and so on. But each species has a unique sound, so I developed a device to record the sound. Its analysis helped to identify the frog,” said Ms Karlsson. “It was not easy. The devices failed initially, but with the assistance of my father in assembling the electronic devices properly, I could gain the results,” she said.

Watch video on Catharina Karlsson’s study through following link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-o33wtcTmQ

Environmentalists, conservationists gather for tropical biodiversity conference in Sri Lanka

September 19, 2019

The 12th Asia-Pacific Chapter Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) got underway yesterday (Sept 10) at MAS Athena in Thulhiriya. Published on SundayTimes Online on 11.09.2010 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/article/1102195/environmentalists-conservationists-gather-for-tropical-biodiversity-conference-in-sri-lanka


By Malaka Rodrigo

The 12th Asia-Pacific Chapter Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) got underway yesterday (Sept 10) at MAS Athena in Thulhiriya. The conference which was inaugurated by the President will go on till September 13. President Sirisen opened the sessions with the planting an Atamba (wild mango) tree.

ATBC is one of the largest international scientific and professional organizations engaged in promoting research, education, capacity building and communication regarding the world’s tropical ecosystems.  The Asia Pacific Chapter was established in 2007.

The tropical region is the area near the equator and between the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere.

The tropics comprise 40% of the Earth’s surface area; but has diverse habitats ranging from rainforests to deserts and from savannahs to mangroves. With the majority of biodiversity hotspots spread in the area, the tropical zone is home to 80% of species that live on earth.

With India and China making up a part of the tropical regions it is expected that it would harbor half of the human population in the world by 2030.

“This indicates that the problems faced by the environment and wild animals as well as plants would be enormous. Science has the answers on how to sustain life, so this is an important summit for Sri Lanka,” said Country representative of ATBCAP, Dr.Enoka Kudawidanage.

The theme ATBC-AP 2019 is “Bridging the Elements of Biodiversity Conservation: Save–Study –Use” which is in line with the global, regional and local agendas for the conservation of natural resources accompanied by sustainable development.

Reiterating the significance of this gathering, the co-chair of the Scientific Committee of the conference, Emeritus Professor Nimal Gunatilleke said that, “This timely meeting of over 300 international and local scientists and other stakeholders is being held in Sri Lanka at a time when the international community is trying to find new strategies to sustain life on this planet.”

The Chairperson of the Conference, Dr. Enoka Kudavidanage is confident that, “this conference creates a platform for local and international scientists, as well as conservation practitioners, to network and initiate collaboration while sharing their findings at a global forum.”

She went on to say that twenty-six symposia with over 200 oral and poster presentations are being made by the participants on a wide range of topics aimed at bridging the elements of biodiversity conservation.

While university students and researchers are also taking part in this conference  Co-chair of the Conference, Dr.Sampath Senerathne said the conference was an important opportunity for such groups to learn and network with experts from different parts of the world.

While seven eminent national and international scientists are due to present keynote and plenary presentations during this four-day international conference, several workshops covering technical subjects were conducted before the conference and will be followed by research-oriented field tours.

The wholesome experience creates opportunities for scientists and practitioners to gain new insights and knowledge while acquiring skills to contribute towards capacity building within the Asia-Pacific region.

International scientists to meet in Lanka on tropics crisis

June 29, 2019

International scientists will meet in Sri Lanka in September to discuss saving life forms in the tropics, where 80 per cent of all species live and where the greatest threats to biodiversity lie. Published on SundayTimes on 16.06.2019 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/190616/news/international-scientists-to-meet-in-lanka-on-tropics-crisis-353692.html 

Tropical region is home to diverse habitats (c) Ruchira Somaweera

“About 200 world-renowned scientists are expected to participate in this conference, organised by the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)’s Asia-Pacific Chapter,” Dr. Enoka Kudavidanage, conference chair and ATBC country representative said.

Discussions will take place with a heightened sense of urgency as a key United Nations study predicts that 1 million species risk extinction.

“The bonds that hold Nature together may be at risk of unravelling from deforestation, overfishing, development and other human activities,” National Geographic stated, reporting on the results of the UN Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services issued in May.

The tropics, which encompass 40 per cent of the Earth’s surface area, has diverse habitats ranging from rainforests to deserts, savannah to mangroves that are threatened by deforestation, overfishing, poaching, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species.

The knowledge aired at the conference would help scientists dealing with biodiversity problems in Sri Lanka, conference co-chair, Dr. Sampath Seneviratne of the University of Colombo, said.

The event would be a good opportunity to put Sri Lanka at the “focal point of conservation science at this important juncture”, said Professor Savitri Gunatilleke, Emeritus Professor at the University of Peradeniya.

Dr. Gunatilleke, who was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the ATBC in 2016, the first Sri Lankan to be honoured thus, pointed out that this country had a number of “renowned conservation scientists and many young researchers who aspire to be successful scientists of tropical biodiversity”.

The ATBC conference, the first of its kind to be held in Sri Lanka, will take place at MAS Athena, Thulhiriya from September 10-13. Visit http://atbcap2019.org/index.html for details.

Founded in 1963, the ATBC is the world’s largest and oldest academic society dedicated to the study and conservation of tropical ecosystems. As many as 65 countries are involved in its activities.

Meanwhile the much-hyped World Wildlife Conference (CITES COP18) has been postponed to October pending security clearance following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.

Authorities hope this conference, which hundreds of foreign scientists are expected to attend, will boost the tourism industry which was devastated by the bombings, carried out by Islamic militants in churches and hotels on April 21.

Most of the earth’s biodiversity hotspots are in tropical region

Earth Day – Every single individual matters

April 22, 2018
#Earth_Day: Today – 22nd of April- is the ‘EARTH DAY’. Have you noticed the popular search engine Google had following as its GoogleDoodle today..? Visit the link to read Earth Day message by leading primatologist Dr.Jane Goodall.
“Every single individual matters. Every single individual make some impact on the planet on every single day and we have a choice what kind of difference we are going to make” Let’s all hear Dr.Goodale’s Earth Day call to live all our lives in better harmony with nature..!!

Enjoying the nature at backyard on Earth Day 2017

April 22, 2017

Today is #EarthDay2017 and the theme this year is “Environmental & Climate Literacy”. I had a little field visit with my little ‘birding colleague’ who had her first experience of millipedes. She was fascinated that millipedes have so many legs and the way they are getting coiled when disturbed.

..We also visited the garden enjoying the nature in the backyard. On our way, we also got the chance to pluck few rose apples (ජම්බු).

Regarding millipedes, I wanted to tell my little daughter that these creatures would be a group that will be badly affected by climate change as more severe doubts are due to hit this part of the world. A research paper also stated that elevated atmospheric CO2 and changes in plant community composition are expected to alter leaf litter quality affecting millipedes.

We are already facing disasters that are highly charged due to climate change. Sadly, I believe that my daughter’s generation will have to face more severe disasters due to climate change. On this Earth Day, let’s all determine to do our part to protect environment and act in a way not to fuel global warming atleast for their future.

Let’s all hope there will be better tomorrow for my daughter’s generation (including the biodiversity of the earth)…!!!

Source for Millipede data: http://www.senckenberg.de/files/content/forschung/publikationen/soilorganisms/volume_81_3/32_david.pdf

Message on the Earth Day by Executive Secretary of Convention of Biological Diversity:
Message_Mother_Earth_Day (2)

Infographic showing number of people who do not think climate change is not that serious
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/factsheet/convenience-in-denial-57655

Enjoying nature at backyard on Earth Day 2017 – Dulithi trying to pluck a rose apple (ජම්බු)

Dulithi showing the rose apples that she pucked

They they have so many legs..?? – Dulithi observing millipedes

Curious – A closer look at the millipede

Aggregation of millipedes

We also found a shell of a snail

Stitching together a love for needlework and the wilds

December 4, 2016

The joy of needlework as a hobby never left Samanthi Gamage. She also loves wildlife and so she began stitching images of birds, bears, trees and much more. Samanthi will now showcase her work at ‘Sonduru Soba’, an exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Gallery on December 10 and 11.

Samanthi is the wife of Rajika Gamage who has done several guide books on Birds and Butterflies. With the assistance of her husband, Samanthi previously held an exhibition named ‘Siyoth Ru’ on 2009 and 2012. Birds were the main subject of this exhibition, but ‘Sonduru Soba’ will contain needlework featuring other wildlife as well.

Needle painting also known as thread painting or painting with a needle, is a hand embroidery technique blending long and short stitches to create realistic images on cloth. Samanthi works mainly on ‘Amu redi’ and first makes a sketch of the picture and background. She says it is mostly a family affair with Rajika helping to draw the images on the cloth and her sons – Sakuna and Vihanga assisting in different ways.

photo-2

1-elephant

3-velvet-fronted-nuthatch

Published on SundayTimes 2 on 04.12.2016 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/161204/sunday-times-2/stitching-together-a-love-for-needlework-and-the-wilds-218911.html 

A Thought for World Environment Day 2016…!!

June 5, 2016

Today, 5th of June is the World Environment Day 2016. I had a little field visit to the neighborhood land in the morning with my little ‘birding companion’ to feel the nature to celebrate the day. The land was full of grass that still holds silvery morning dew. As we walked in, grasshoppers that disturbed by our foot movements jumped out on different directions. Butterflies were seeing flying from one wild flower to another in search of nectar. A lonely lizard basking the rays of morning sun was watchful, but did not make a move by our presence. My little daughter was excited as many of these things in the nature were new to her. She had quickly find friendship with mimosa (නිදිකුම්බා) shrubs found plenty in the land. She started enjoying kicking mimosa shrubs one after another watching joyously how the leaves go to sleep by her touch. She also liked its flower and plucked few, showing me her priced collection.

‘Nature’ is indeed a wonderful thing, but we often ignore the beauty of its little things still survive around us. Hope my little daughter and all the kids in the world would get more chances to experience the joy of nature and they will not destroy nature, but protect it when they grow up. This is my World Environment Day wish..!!

2016 WED - showing the flower 2 2016, WED - plucking nidikumba flower 1 2016, WED - plucking nidikumba flower 3

Celebrating Biodiversity with කොස් කොත්තු & පොළොස් කට්ලට්

May 24, 2015

The world celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity each year on 22nd of May. In Sri Lanka atleast 3 events were held to mark this important day paying attention to the Earth’s Biological Diversity.

The main event was organized by the Ministry of Environment (Biodiversity secretariat) and Ministry of Agriculture commissioning a food outlet ‘Hela Bojun’ that promotes food made out of healthy ingredients closer to nature. The president of Sri Lanka, Mr.Maithripala Sirisena inaugurated the ‘Hela Bojun’ outlet. කොස් කොත්තු (Kos Kottu) – kottu made of Jack, පොළොස් කට්ලට් (Polos Cutlet), samabala rotti – balanced rotti are some of the interesting food items being served at ‘Hela Bojun’ which will be open for the public.

A lecture on ‘Biodiversity and Development’ and ‘Biodiversity and Foods’ too were delivered by prominent experts in the field. Minister of Agriculture and other senior officers of the department were among those present.

Later, the website of Sri Lanka UN REDD – http://www.redd.lk. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The Business and Biodiversity Platform with the assistance of Dilmah Conservation organized a lecture on the theme “Biodiversity Imperative” on the evening of the Biodiversity Day. The Young Zoologists Association (YZA) based at zoo also conducted 3 day awareness session on Biodiversity to mark the special day.

BioDiv Day - Aturaliye Rathana Thero BioDiv Day - from Dr.Siril's talk bioDiv Day - Kos Kottu BioDiv Day - Polos Cutlet 1. Launching of REDD website - LOW RES 2. Minister launching the REDD Web.- LOW RES 4. audience 5

More on the International Day on Biological Diversity, visit this link https://www.cbd.int/idb/

 

‘Birding with the 3rd eye’

January 24, 2015

“Birds’ welfare comes first” is the message of the FOGSL photography exhibition. This article has been published on SundayTimes on 07.12.2014 – http://www.sundaytimes.lk/141207/plus/birding-with-the-3rd-eye-130738.html

Dushantha Wasala’s photograph “The Battlefield” showing a mid-air fight of Malabar Pied Hornbills was the overall winner of the “Birding with the 3rd Eye” exhibition. Sandaruwan Abayaratne, S.N.P. Rodrigo, Dr. Gihan Rajeev and Dr. Sudheera Bandara won first prize in the categories Bird portrait, Bird behaviour, Endemic and Rare Birds and Birds in Crisis respectively.

‘Mid-air Battle’ – the overall winner

 

Today is the final day of the exhibition being held at the University of Colombo with the aim of reminding nature lovers that the birds’ welfare should come first and that the ethical photographer can explore a great deal of birdlife – undisturbed.

The exhibition contains 150 photographs selected from the competition held recently. Nearly 100 photographers submitted close to 500 bird photographs and an independent panel of judges – wildlife photographers – Kithsiri Gunawardane, Mendis Wickremasinghe and Isuru Udana de Zoysa selected the winners.

“It is good to see people are getting more and more interested on nature, but at the same time the same excitement should not disturb nature. Our main aim is to raise awareness that the animal’s welfare should come first,” said Dr. Sampath Seneviratne of the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGSL) that coordinated the exhibition.

Photographers always try to go close to the birds to take their photos. But it is important to keep a safe distance. If the animal shows signs of distress, then you should stop disturbing it. You also need to be patient – never force an action. The most beautiful photographs result from natural action,” Dr. Seneviratne added.

Nest photography is another area that photographers need to be careful about. Never encroach on nests as certain species will abandon the young. Some birds select a safer place that is hidden from the predators, but if you remove foliage to get a good shot, you could be exposing the nest.

So educate yourselves by learning about birds that will allow you to take a good bird photograph without disturbing them, appeals the Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka.

Veteran Herpetologist and expert wildlife photographer Mendis Wickremasinghe says the competition is unique as it has different categories helping to recognise different aspects of bird photography. The competitors could submit the photos under categories such as Bird portrait, Bird behaviour, Endemic and Rare Birds, Birds in Crisis. “If these are judged under the same category, it is natural that a Bird Behaviour photo emerge the winner. But in this format, even a portrait kind of photo is recognised,” he explained.

With the experience of judging the photos, Mendis said there were lots photos submitted for Bird Portrait and Behaviours; but very few for categories such as ‘Birds in Crisis’ and ‘Birds Habitats’. “It looks like photographers have not properly understood these categories, meaning their attention is mainly on taking a photograph. But these are categories photographers can contribute toward conservation through educating others through their photos,” Mendis added.

[The Birding with the 3rd Eye exhibition and the P.B. Karunaratne Bird Exhibition has been held on December, 2014 at the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo]

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Overall winner gets the prize from Mrs.P.B.Karunaratne.

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I spy with my little eye a bird!

January 24, 2015

‘Wild in Ruins’, Lester Perera’s exhibition celebrates both wildlife and archaeological sites. This article was published on 31st of August 2014. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140831/plus/i-spy-with-my-little-eye-a-bird-115448.html

Well known wildlife artist and leading naturalist Lester Perera is ready with his next exhibition of wildlife art under the theme ‘Wild in Ruins’. Among the colourful paintings of birds using watercolours and acrylics, the exhibition contains black and white ‘ink and pen’ drawings. At a glance, they seem to showcase archaeological sites in Sri Lanka, but a closer look will reveal the birds that perfectly blend into the ruins. There are kingfishers perched on top of ancient korawakkgala, the owl in wata da geya, an Indian Pitta in the ruins of Polonnaruwa- hence the theme ‘Wild in Ruins’. Lester says he wanted to promote birding in Heritage Sites through this exhibition while also highlighting the importance to step up conservation of Sri Lanka’s wildlife, before human activities ruin them. In a colour sketch the artist has shades of different colour to bring life to a painting, but in black and white, the artist has to use different shades of the same colour to give depth to the drawing, which needs lots of patience and skill. “Drawing wildlife in black and white is more difficult, but I enjoy it. It is like a meditation that brings me enormous personal pleasure,” Lester says. This is Lester’s 8th exhibition of wildlife art. With almost 30 years’ experience as a birdwatcher, Lester is undeniably one of the most accomplished bird artists in the region. He has exhibited his work at many international exhibitions and was invited by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for “Art on the wing” 2005 to exhibit his work along with the leading wildlife artists in Europe at the Maclaurin Gallery in Scotland.

He annually donates his work to the Oriental Bird Club of the UK to be auctioned at the British Bird Watching Fair held in Leicestershire, the proceeds of which are used for significant bird related conservation work in the Orient. “I’m already framed as a ‘Bird Artist’, but I also wanted to prove I’m versatile and I can take up the challenge of drawing other things,” says Lester explaining why he has chosen to focus more on habitats this time – particularly archaeological sites. As a renowned naturalist, Lester points out that people need to enjoy nature as a whole when they go out into the wild. “Other than birds, leopards or elephants – there are so many things to observe when people go out into a forest. Simple things such as the fallen leaves on the forest floor in different stages of decay can be something unique to explore,” added Lester, who is critical of the behaviour of visitors to wildlife parks who chase behind animals like leopards in a crazy effort to photograph them. It is not easy to become a wildlife artist in Sri Lanka as there is very little assistance from the state and no proper government run Art Gallery that can be used by the budding artists to showcase their talents, points out Lester who feels it is high time the State played a more active role in fostering the arts. “Wild in Ruins” will be at the Harold Peiris gallery of the Lionel Wendt on September 6 and 7  of 2014 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wild in Ruin - Indian Pitta (Black & White) Wild in Ruin - Owl (in Black & White) Wild in Ruin - A kingfisher (Black & White)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Instead of Erabadu; Pink Trumpet unfolds petals for New Year

April 13, 2014

Erabudu is the flower of the Avurudu season but you will hardly be able to find erabadu these days. Instead, rosy trumpet (tabebuia) flowers bloom, marking the onset of the New Year season. (photos by Susantha Udagedara) 

This is the famous sakura flower season in Japan with thousands of cherry trees in full bloom. The cherry trees shed their leaves in winter and in spring become fully covered by white or pink blooms, making a spectacular show of nature.

In a similar spectacle, a pink flower started blooming in many parts of Sri Lanka two weeks ago — the blooms of the rosy trumpet, Tabebuia rosea, colloquially known as rabarosia.

Tabebuia usually blooms in February-March; but this time the trees were in full bloom in the last week of March, marking the onset of the Aluth Avurudda. The full bloom is over now, and the trees have fresh greenish tender leaves, but a few flowers can still be seen.
Tabebuia is native to South America and was brought to Sri Lanka as an exotic plant for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya in the 1800s.

The Japanese plant sakura trees close to one another so that when they bloom they make a spectacular scene. Our urban planners can think about using the 30-foot tall tabebuia trees in a similar manner. Like sakura, the falling tabebuia flowers make a spectacular scene — the ground under the trees becomes pink with fallen flowers, making it a treat for the eyes. Street sweepers might not like it!
The recent sporadic rains brought flowers to ehela trees and some mara trees that start blooming as Avurudda approaches. But sadly, erabudu – the traditional sign of the season – seems to be vanishing.

Erabudu is the Indian coral tree (Erythrina variegate) and its bright red flower (inflorescence) that resembles a tiger claw blooms from February to April, coinciding with the Avurudu season. Erabudu trees have thorns and grow straight, making them a perfect hedge planting. But nowadays such fences have been replaced by parapet walls.

Sri Lanka gets 300 Sakura Plants 

Meanwhile the Japan Sakura Exchange Association donated 300 sakura plants to Sri Lanka at a small ceremony held at the Japanese Embassy recently. Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo said sakura flowers symbolised peace and the donation would strengthen the long-standing relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka. These sakura plants belong to a special cultivar called Prunus campanulata cultivar “Yoko”, suitable for planting above 1,500m. Some will be set in the grounds of the Hakgala Botanical Gardens.

Mr Wakisaka and the Ambassador Hobo showing a photo of the flowers of the Sakura plants gifted.

Mr Wakisaka and the Ambassador Hobo showing a photo of the flowers of the Sakura plants gifted.

Published on SundayTimes on 13.04.2014 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140413/news/newcomer-unfolds-petals-for-new-year-92563.html

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Young Zoologists bring out the beauty of the wild

November 6, 2013

The annual wildlife art exhibition together with the wildlife photographic exhibition by the Young Zoologists Association (YZA) will be held this week.

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‘Kin Wild’ -the exhibition of wildlife paintings and sketches by the Young Zoologists is probably the longest running wildlife art exhibition in the country. The Young Zoologists Association established the ‘Wildlife Arts’ group in 1989 to assist talented wildlife artists who study wildlife through the society’s other programmes. YZA held their first exhibition in 1990 and since then it has been an annual event.

YZA members study different wildlife groups through the regular education programmes held each Sunday afternoon at the Zoological Gardens, Dehiwela. The YZA has five study groups focusing on birds, mammals, reptiles, aquatic life and flora. Members who are mainly students get the chance to study the animals and their behaviour. Wildlife photography and art classes are conducted as special study groups held on Sunday mornings.

The Young Zoologists’ Association was established in 1972 by former Zoo Director and renowned conservationist Lyn de Alwis, who saw the need to promote an interest in the study and conservation of nature among young people.

Over 100 of the wildlife paintings/sketches and wildlife photographs will be on display at the exhibition at the J.D.A. Perera Gallery of the Faculty of Visual Arts at 46, Horton Place, Colombo 7 on November 8,9 and 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

some of the wildife arts and photographs that will be on display…

Sambur at Horton Plains

An owlet

Drawing - Yellow-eared Bulbul

Terns

invitation

Published on 03.11.2013 on SundayTimes http://www.sundaytimes.lk/131103/magazine/young-zoologists-bring-out-the-beauty-of-the-wild-67415.html

Wildlife Diaries- Memoirs from the wilderness

October 23, 2013

“Rajiv is different to the new crop of wildlife photographers that Sri Lanka is producing. Firstly he doesn’t concentrate only on the national parks. Secondly he is deeply concerned about conservation,” says veteran wildlife photographer Namal Kamalgoda of Rajiv Welikala who is preparing for his maiden wildlife photographic exhibition “Wildlife Diaries: Memoirs from the Sri Lankan Wilderness”.

Back to back - the young tuskers of Kalawewa herd

Back to back – the young tuskers of Kalawewa herd

Armed with his camera, Rajiv has braved wildernesses across the country, been chased by elephants while trying to photograph tuskers in Kalawewa and once had a narrow escape in an encounter with a bear in Lunugamwehera while on foot. But he is undeterred in his passion for bringing out the true beauty of Sri Lanka.

Rajiv has a passion for photographing tuskers. He believes documenting them is the first step towards protecting these gentle giants before they all vanish. The majestic tusker known as ‘Medha’ (weather god in Sinhala) hidden in a jungle patch in Wilpattu is his favourite tusker photo. “We had to wait over 15 minutes as many vehicles passed the spot even without noticing the majestic tusker taking shelter in the jungle. Slowly but surely the tusker started coming out. I captured this image at the right moment, when a beam of sunlight hit the side of his face, giving this amazing picture,” he recalls. The photograph captures the sense of mystery and awe the tusker inspires, and the landscape Wilpattu is famous for, he adds.

Photos of several tuskers showing different characteristics will be part of the exhibition. “I like to focus on locations outside national parks to search for tuskers especially in the North Central and Wayamba Provinces. The best time of day is evening, roughly between 4.30-5.30 p.m. which I like to call “Magic Hour” where the light is golden and optimum for photography,” Rajiv revealed. Rajiv Welikala

But Rajiv’s love for nature goes beyond tuskers as the over 70 such photographs exhibited will reveal- birds, mammals and reptiles among

his subjects.

While he loves to spend time in the wild, he points out that wildlife is all around us and one does not necessarily need to look to far-off jungles to photograph wild animals. Even closer to Colombo, there are many locations which are a haven for a multitude of species. Home gardens provide opportunities to capture photos of birds and other creatures, says Rajiv showing us a photo of a Brown-headed Barbet he had taken at his grandparents’ garden in Bambalapitiya.

Nature is so diverse and full of surprises there is never a boring day if you learn to open your eyes and broaden your horizons, he says, pointing out that many wildlife enthusiasts looking only for leopards in sanctuaries such as Yala, totally ignore the other species found in plenty there.

Rajiv started wildlife photography at the age of 13 while at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. He did his higher studies at the University of Wales and now aged 28 is currently reading for an MBA from the Cardiff Metropolitan University, while working at MAS Intimates as a merchandiser.

‘Wildlife Diaries – Memoirs from the Sri Lankan Wilderness’ will be held from October 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo 7.  http://www.sundaytimes.lk/131020/plus/the-true-beauty-of-sri-lanka-66097.html

The whisper - sambur family

The whisper – sambur family

Ulama - the Devil Bird or Forest Eagle Owl from Wilpattu

Ulama – the Devil Bird or Forest Eagle Owl from Wilpattu

Megha - An elusive Wilpattu Tusker - Rajiv's favorite Tusker photo

Megha – An elusive Wilpattu Tusker – Rajiv’s favorite Tusker photo

Taming the wilds with his untamed images

December 21, 2012

Tyron Vimukthi Fernando, a 15-year-old student of Joseph Vaas College, Wennapuwa held his first art exhibition when he was just seven years old. Now eight years later, the young artist is getting ready for his second to be held this week.

The exhibition will be titled ‘Untamed’.�A member of the junior group of the Young Zoologists’ Association of Sri Lanka which he joined in 2005, he was a keen student at their wildlife art classes. In the past seven years, he has developed his skills under the guidance of Shantha Jayaweera, the instructor at the wildlife art class.

Tyron is often found at the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens, sketching animals. Mind you, he has to travel from Wennappuwa a more than 50 km journey, but it’s all worth it for this keen young artist.

His teachers feel Tyron is an all-round artist who is capable of drawing any kind of animal and working with different media. He started off with pencil sketches then turned to ink drawings and watercolours, and now also works with the acrylic medium. He will exhibit some 60 paintings at his wildlife art exhibition on December 7 and 8 at the National Art Gallery, Colombo. The exhibition is on from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Published on SundayTimes on 02.12.2012 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/121202/magazine/taming-the-wilds-with-his-untamed-images-22500.html

A brush with nature at KIN WILD 2012

June 11, 2012
The Young Zoologists’ Association (YZA) celebrates their 40th anniversary with their annual painting exhibition
By Malaka Rodrigo
A whole new digital world prompts many to take up the camera and shoot the wild. Exhibitions of wildlife photographs are quite common these days, but not so exhibitions of wildlife paintings. However keeping to their aim of promoting wildlife arts, the Young Zoologists are getting ready for their 18th annual wildlife painting exhibition KIN WILD 2012.

Some of the exhibits that will be on display

Wildlife art is one of humanity’s earliest art forms, dating back to prehistoric cave paintings such as those found in Lascaux, France. These were of a few large animals such as bison, deer or horse that were hunted by our human ancestors in Europe.

The focus of the young wildlife artists contributing to KIN WILD is different. Their aim is to spread awareness that it is a crime to kill all these beautiful creatures who are like our own relations in the wild; hence the title of the exhibition – KIN WILD.

These Young Zoologists have not restricted their work to only the charismatic animals such as leopards or elephants. They portray the value of our amazing biodiversity through their paintings of frogs, snakes, freshwater fish etc.

The Young Zoologists’ Association (YZA) marks their 40th anniversary this year. Started in 1972 as a small organization for youth to get together at the zoo by then director and veteran conservationist Lyn De Alwis, the society has grown to be a leading educator on wildlife and nature. YZA meets every Sunday at the Dehiwala Zoo premises and members are taught about a particular subject ranging from birds, mammals, reptiles, aquatic life and flora. Wildlife photography is taught separately.

YZA also conducts a wildlife art class on Sunday mornings to hone artistic skills among their young members. KIN WILD is the platform for these members to showcase their work. These young artists know the features and behaviour of the animals they draw, so their paintings are very close to nature.
Over 75 of paintings will be on display at the KIN WILD Exhibition. YZA welcomes all nature lovers to the exhibition that will be open to the public on June 7, 8 and 9 at the National Art Gallery.

Published on SundayTimes – 03.06.2012 – www.sundaytimes.lk/120603/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_02.html

Picture perfect misty Plains

January 1, 2012

Horton Plains is one of the country’s most spectacular natural landscapes. Enormous grasslands edging the unique cloud forest, the surrounding mountain ranges and wildlife unique to the area make it a dream location for every photographer. With the aim of improving amateur skills on covering the beauty of the misty plains, a special field Photographic Workshop was recently organized by the National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka (NPASSL) at Horton Plains.

Misty Hortan Plains : Pix courtesy NPASSL

“Horton Plains is like a woman. At one time the sun shines smiling and the next minute, the mist changes the mood completely. Taking photographs in Horton Plains sets its own challenges, but it is a rewarding experience,” said NPASSL executive director Shantha K. Gunarathne.

The mist is indeed a unique feature at Horton Plains. Photographing in the mist is different from shooting in clear weather, but it also creates opportunities for an artistic shot. Scenes are no longer necessarily clear and defined, and are often deprived of contrast and colour – yet this can make the whole scene beautifully mysterious, adding a professional edge to the photo, say the experts.

The mist can sometimes make the subject into nothing but a husk of a silhouette. Photographing the silhouetted shapes is also another photographic opportunity. Depth and light conditions add more life to the picture. Water droplets in the mist also make light scatter a lot more than it would otherwise. This greatly softens the light, but also makes light streaks visible from concentrated or directional light sources. “However, like in any form of art it is the creativity of the individual that makes a photo taken in Horton Plains a good one,” point out the experts.

Instructor Rohitha Gunawardane highlighted the macro photography opportunities at Horton Plains – wild flowers and small creatures like frogs or horned lizards unique to this area. Most digital cameras used by amateur photographers are capable of capturing close range photos, so this can be a rewarding experiences for those who do not have sophisticated zoom lenses.

Wildlife photographer Isuru de Zoysa, – who frequently visits Horton Plains sharing his experience as a resource person at the workshop warned of the need to protect your camera from the damp when photographing in misty conditions. It usually drizzles at Horton Plains and the mist also brings lots of water droplets which can harm camera equipment. “One should be prepared to protect one’s camera equipment in the field,” advises Isuru. The mist can also cause condensation and these water droplets can accumulate in the lens and camera body. Taking along a clean absorbent cloth to wipe the lens and the camera is a must.

Established by Wilson Hegoda in 1950, the National Photographic Arts Society conducts classes, workshops, seminars and field excursions. A three-year diploma course in photography is also available free of charge.

Rays of sun penetrating cloud forest
A white-eye feeding on a flower on the plains
Team photographers at Hortan plains engulfed by mist

A chance to click your best

The 38th Annual Exhibition and Competition of Photography organized by the NPASSL will be held from December 16– 18. Four categories – Amateur Monochrome, Amateur Colour, Open Monochrome and Open Colour are open to all and photographs taken on any theme can be submitted. For more details see http://www.npasslanka.org, email info@npasslanka.org or call 777 519679.

Published on SundayTimes on 04.12.2011 www.sundaytimes.lk/111204/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_06.html 

Action! It’s Bollywood Vs Hollywood for WED

June 12, 2011

World Environment Day (WED) was celebrated around the world on June 5 and both Bollywood and Hollywood stars were among those who rallied their fans to take environmental friendly actions on this day – by Malaka Rodrigo

‘Save trees’, ‘Protect our Environment’ – these are some of the slogans we start hearing around the first week of June when the world celebrates World Environment Day (WED). But this time the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) came up with a new way to convey the message.

“Hi Rahul, I bet I can get more people to join us on World Environment than you..”
“Ahh…. I don’t think so.. I’m one of the most respected actors of India after al.l”
“Ah…. So am I …and I have so much goodwill to share that I will plant a tree for each activity registered under my name.”
“Well, I will see each of your trees and will plant two.”

This was the dialogue between two Bollywood stars – Priyanka Chopra and Rahul Bose who headed an environmental campaign to urge their fans in India and around the world to take action on World Environment Day. ‘Plant a Forest’ was the theme of the challenge.

The WED challenge set up by these Bollywood stars is simple. There are many environmental activities we all can do individually or as a community- from choosing public transport to travel, turning off additional lights, recycling or even tree planting. These individual actions, when multiplied, can make an exponential difference to the planet.

To make their favourite actor win the challenge, the fans have to register their Environmental Activity under either Priyanka or Rahul on the UNEP WED Challenge website. When they log into www.wedchallenge.org/india  it first prompts them to choose their most loved idol and then register their activities.

This year’s theme is “FORESTS: Nature at your service” and going forward with this idea both Rahul and Priyanka promised to plant a forest for each registered activity to increase the tree cover and most importantly look after the trees. More action by their fans will make this forest bigger.

Hollywood stars Don Cheadle (Ocean’s Eleven) and Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen too have taken up the challenge. Bollywood has in fact challenged Hollywood in World Environment Day activities.

“Hey Don.. Hey Giselle.. Now we get more people to join us on World Environment Day than both of you”.
This was typically a challenge by a hero in a Hindi movie, but it was for a good cause.

“Help Bollywood to beat Hollywood to plant a huge forest to make the world a healthier place” that was Rahul’s plea to his fans.

Visit http://www.unep.org/wed/A-Z/ to get some of the ideas on environmental actions. The final results of the challenge will be released soon, so keep an eye on the UNEP website www.UNEP.org/WED

Published on SundayTimes youth section – MirrorMagazine on 12.06.2011 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110612/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_02.html

Dancing to the Rythms of Nature

June 8, 2011

Inline with World Environment Day, a traditional dancing event was held at Delhi Maart. The dance was done for the rythms of the nature..!!

Traditional dance for Nature’s Celebrations