Act now - Change the future !

12/8/09


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United Nations Climate Change Conference is now taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. People around the world are now looking at the great leaders, what they going to decide for common future of the world. It seems this could be the last chance to pay our attention towards a generous initiation to act. This is the last chance to change the future.

Environmentalists all over the world are already forcing the authorities to act immediately and genuinely, because they have a lot of doubts, whether leaders would make themselves changed to think in much nature friendly way from their profit oriented thinking pattern. In other words, if Obama does as Bush did, world would be much un-fortunate!

Will hope for the best..! this is the ultimate fight in between profits and sharing.. Cruelty and kindness.. Anyway, this will decide the fate of mankind..

(Above banner is one of the banners viewed in Copenhagen airport as a part of the campaign of forcing the leaders to act today)

Role model in Conservation of Wildlife

12/6/09


Officers of the government sector are being hammered by most of the media and people due to their inefficient working pattern and lack of positive attitudes towards the duty they got to perform. Department of wildlife is only one such government department which is being criticized by so many ways. While I started to hang around wild places since I was a school boy, I simply realized how hard their job should be. Any way, all the claims raise against them are not just speculations; there are a lot of corrupted and unbelievably lazy people in the scene.

Any way, there are some counter examples, who have committed the maximum to serve the country and do their job accurately. In one of the past posts, I revealed about one of the great wildlife officers I have met and his tragic end. (i.e. Mr.Kumarasinghe) There was only one another officer I can recall, who was inspired to do the job so cleverer. That’s Mr.Wasantha Pushpananda. End of this officer too was not with much difference from Kumarasinghe’s. Kumarasinghe was killed by poachers while Pushpananda was killed by terrorists! This world is not a fair place at all.

I first met Mr.Pushpananda while he was the park warden of Gal Oya National Park. I was on a visit to Gal Oya with few other guys from University of Colombo. When we expose our enthusiasm in wildlife and conservation, he was so happy and extended his full support to our work within the park premises. I have never seen such an efficient, dynamic and systematic person on this earth!

He kept park office as clean as a temple. No once could enter it without removing shoes. He was so fast in what he does. For an example, I have never seen someone who drives so fast in wild trails like he does. In other hand, he was so rigid with his laws and disciplinary procedures.

When ceasefire agreement was declared, government wanted to re-open Wilpattu in 2003. Pushpananda was assigned the massive task of converting this neglected park in to a functioning one and he was appointed the warden. I think, his energy and managing skills were well-shown with this unrealistic task. He had to renovate the old bungalows and re-shape the old roads to motor able once. When we visited Wilpattu Pushpananda explained his development plans with us. Specially he was talking to Dr.Dayawansa and got his opinions on his plans.

When he rehabilitates Wilpattu National Park, he didn’t depend on government money. Sometimes he personally went to business people and managed to get some financial supports. He managed to get the help of youths of the area when he needs extra labor force. He was a happy man and he was enjoying when Park was developed step by step. Willpattu became his home! With his efforts, Willpattu became one of the most famous Parks among wildlife enthusiasts very soon.

His death was so tragic! He was killed along with his team consist of wildlife rangers and army officers when he was on the way into the jungle to repair a drinking water tank for elephants. Bodies were found with gunshot injuries and server cutting injuries that showed signs of torture. Pushpananda died within the Park he loved most.. he died within the park he nursed to rebuild.


We couldn’t personally attend to his funeral due to an official matters. Anyway, we wanted to convey our condolence to his family members and we head to his village at Diyakitulkanda (off Mathugama) in the following evening after office duties. It was so dark and about mid-night when we reach his home. There wasn’t electricity in that village and we saw a small lamp had been lit in front of the house. When we spoke to his brother, we got to know the things we didn’t know about this great person. He had been so simple in his life; any of the villagers didn’t know about his massive important role in Sri Lankan wildlife. His brother started to cry when we expose our condolence.. Tears of a male are always heavier!

Since we have a peaceful surrounding today, Willpattu will be reopened and come up to the pinnacle of its state as a very important Wild Life Park in Sri Lanka… Only few would remind that, the soil of Willpattu had been fertilized with the tears, sweat and blood of a true hero of the nation.








Dutugamunu: a taboo topic?

10/27/09

Jayantha Chandrasiri has started a massive cinematic task. He is going to take King Dutugemunu’s character to Cinema. It’s going to be a challenge definitely. Apart from making the film, he is also facing the challenges of critiques already. I wonder this is the first time in the history in Sri Lanka; someone has encountered this kind of criticism even before starting the shooting!

I guess, there is a hidden agenda in this suppression. I don’t know whether this film will be a success or not, but trying to stop it even before doing seems very suspicious. I received a couple of e-mails that criticize the film so aggressively.
When Handagama’s film was banned by authorities, there were a lot of activists and Independent Media movements who talked and showed their disapproval. No one seems to be rescuing Jayantha. What is the difference in between two scenarios?

Some of the critiques say Jayantha is doing this for money and this is supporting extreme nationalism. Jayantha was making dramas/movies based on historical events for a long time. Actually, at that time, no one was much interested in history or such attempts. Now everybody knows that country itself is having new awareness in national ides and rethinking of our own ways of solving the problems. Under current context, a lot more people, media and groups have changed their colors to show their brand new patriotic faces. Now Jayantha has no rights to do what he has been doing?

This case tempts me to analyze the situation this way.. Jayantha has been quite successful in his movie making carrier and significantly he is the only one who didn’t run after international awards. People of Sri Lanka always loved him for what he did. There are some "too much internationalized" entities that always did their best to drag down the true national awareness in Sri Lanka throughout the history. They are not sacred of Handagama, Prasanna Withanage or Vimukthi because they are actually passively promoting their needs. Those people should be really scared that Jayantha would do a better job, otherwise they will not try to hammer him even before starting the initial work.

I have seen some other group who has been criticizing the film because they simply don’t agree with selection of actors. They simply say actor who has been selected for role of Dutugamunu is "not majestic looking" enough to represent the king. They blame Jayantha for doing Anti-national acts through the movie!!

If we summarize the facts, Jayantha is being beaten by both nationalists and anti-nationalists! In a country that “Per person independent movements” are so high.. no one is there to protect his right to do his art!

This harsh criticism has increased my inquisitiveness about the movie.

This movie can be a success or failure... but I really can’t understand the ethical base of hammering Jayantha based on speculations, even before examining the product.

Sunil Madhawa & my 89

10/9/09

Most of the people who called themselves as journalists today are not journalists! But Sunil Madhawa Premathilake is a journalist. He is a sensitive person and he had a limitless love for the country and man-kind. He was brave enough to fight against powerful capitalist governments on behalf of liberty of the community. Most of all, he knew the responsibility of a journalist. His thirst for literature, passion of revealing the reality and committing any personal possessions for the betterment of others raised him to an honorable platform.

My memories on Sunil Aiya (most common way of calling him) go back to the dark age of 1989. It was the time that young generation took violent steps to challenge the government while unrest of the civil community was so high. In return, counter violence from the government was so terrible and that trend was targeting thousands of civilian lives also. This cyclic effect was making things worse.

None of the remarkable interferences were come through so called “international community”, but some of the artists and writers were doing their duty even without thinking of their lives. Sunil was one of the key writers who wanted to write against the dictatorship which was rising.. Sunil Madhawa became a giant in this manner.. He couldn’t exist in his position in most of the traditional newspapers because of the contexts of his writings. He left one by one.. there wasn’t any media to publish his bold ideas.. Sunil with few other brave writers gave birth to the trend of “Tabloid papers”.. they were actually not much focusing at profit, but it made some room for writing the reality.. people gathered around them while government kept on threatening the journalists who wrote the reality. Sunil became the target of few brutal attacks but survived with injuries.

In this time, I was just a student at Ananda College and was so inspired by literature and youthful radical ideas. As a group of amateur writers, we too were writing in our scales. Sunil Madhawa was a big hero in our arena. We were operating a writing circle in the college and we had some frequent activities, where Sunil Madhawa became a useful resource person. Sunil Madhawa’s passion of writing against suppression came to a climax by translating the book “Cry Freedom” (story of Steve Biko) to Sinhala (as Handanu Mana Nidahasa). Sinhala readers accept it with a great gravity since Sri Lanka itself had been showing the mirror images of the dictatorship and killing revealed in the book. Anyway, this book dragged his life to a great risk.

I used to visit the office of Lakdiva tabloid paper at Borella. Lakdiva editorial team was fabulous. Some of the famous people were blooming in it. Famous Wini Hettigoda was the cartoonist. Dalas Alahapperuma (minister in current parliament) was one of the writers. There was another special person called “Vimalasiri Gamlath”, that was Wimal Weerawansa who is playing a big role in today’s politics. His literature skills were tremendous. I wonder why he is not writing much today.. I call it a crime! Sunil Aiya was not much interested in anything else than literature and writing, but hanging around public bars. People were claiming that Sunil was addicted to alcohol. Sunil told that Bars are the best place to meet people; common people like factory workers, government servants, thieves, thugs, prostitutes and people of all calibers. Once, I wanted to ask about this and he honestly told that he is not addicted to alcohols, but to Pub societies. Dialog we had could be well-explained in Sinhala as it was;

I started an Open Wallpaper in school where I too started to reveal my radical feelings about what is happening in the country. I too understood it was time to go beyond Gamperaliya/Sinhabahu; our paper was bit aggressive. Aggressive enough to question the school whether it is justifiable to have a big-match fun while our motherland was on crisis! There is something else I need to tell, a lot of people around me was not approving this aggression. I guess they simply couldn’t accept this harsh criticism or they might have judged it as more political. I was “political” since I was schooling. I invited Sunil Aiya to visit my wallpaper and he came with Professor Somarathne Balasuriya (he is the translator of Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”). He went through the pages and gave some comments. By the time he didn’t forget to convey a warning message too; “You are so young, be careful.. this is not a good time”.

In the meantime, one of the students invited me to write to a weekly magazine and he didn’t mention what it was. (Later, I found out that he was lead by a JVP activist)

I didn’t know the scale of trouble I was heading to, but one incident clearly gave me a red light. I was hanging around Kotte where I had a lot of friends. Actually, I was sitting on a half wall talking to the friends.. We saw a couple of people were at a distance with a broken down motor bike as it was shown.. One of my other friends was coming passing those two strangers and he asked me whether you know those fellows.. I said “no, seems their bike is giving trouble” He replied with an amazement “But they were telling your name in a whispering voice and pointing at you!”

Everything came in to my mind with a flash. What Sunil Aiya told and etc. I understood that we were playing with fire. I simply stopped writing much radical type things and updating the Wall Paper was not done.

It was a dark age in deed. Youths were killed and burnt with tires here and there. Apart from the rebels, a lot of people died without any reason. Both rebels and government bodies sometimes diverted their guns to stop all kinds of rivals.. Sometimes to stop journalists, artists and for personal reasons too! In one such incident, a dozen of school children was labeled as rebels and killed for a personal reason lead by a minister (namely Nanda Mathew!) Not only him, most of the powerful people got their personal things done and accounted to the revolution. Some of the civil activists and intellectuals left the country for their own survival. Still I feel pathetic to see some of the ministers who approved brutal killing, being the members of that cabinet in that era, are now behaving like very honorable politicians. (this included our current speaker in the parliament Mr. V.J.Mu Lokubandara!)

Now it is 2009! No one talks much about the lost revolution and the crisis we faced 20 years ago, but I have my emotions with the tragic incidents happened in front of my eyes.

When I recall those past incidents I see Sunil Madhawa Premathilake as a great giant who fight against authorities on behalf of people.. he is a role model of a great journalist!

Recently, I saw Sunil Aiya at Borella bus stand. I knew he is with his noble dreams of a better world..!

Eco Tourism and Responsibilities

9/4/09

Once I was passing Galle, I saw a large gathering who is watching some different kind of a game. I identified both local and foreign players playing elephant-polo with assistance of mahouts. That game seemed funny, because some of the elephants were not aware what was going on but mahouts had to drag them to the ball and do according to so called players’ wish. Some elephants were seen exhausted and frustrated. Anyway, I was thinking this is a very inappropriate try. We should not drag our majestic looking elephants to this pathetic situation. Elephant is a cultural symbol and I don’t like to see it as a funny puppet. So this was my vision on Elephant Polo.





After sometime back I heard that an elephant had become so violent during such a game at Galle. This simply supplied a proof that Elephants were actually not playing the game but they had been forcefully dragged to the ground. This is not the way we should treat wild animals. I guess, after this incident Elephant-Polo wasn’t tried. (Please correct me if I am wrong) So this should be taken as a warning message for people who think of ways to use animals to earn some dollars by the sake of eco-tourism.

Nuwara Gala – a hidden fortress

8/26/09


One of the old posts, I discussed my experience with Dimbulaga exploration. It should be one of the hidden fortresses like places in Sri Lanka. There is another rock full of ruins of a massive fortress and this is also a hidden one by means, till today. Now we are going to talk about “Nuwara Gala”.

In my school days, once I am given a very nice book about expeditions by a team of wildlife enthusiasts, who tried to explore nice natural places of Sri Lanka. Actually that book made me interested in hiking and nature expeditions. This book was almost a basic guide book to young people who wish to explore such beautiful places. Mr. Douglass B. Ranasinghe (a reputed bird watcher and wildlife enthusiast)* is the author of this book called “Maki Yana Wana Peth” (i.e. vanishing trails). It contained a chapter that illustrates how they explored this massive yet hidden site a long time back.

It took us decades to do the same expedition, since the relevant area was highly affected by the LTTE terrorist activities. Anyway, we headed to this wonderful site in 2002 sepetember, when it was the ceasefire and quite safe to enter the location.


First, we went to Pollebeddha School to prepare our stuff and spend the night before starting the hike early next day. It was a very nice place and principal too was a very nice gentleman. The Vedda chief Gomba came to see us in the same evening when he got to knew that some people had come from Colombo. He was so old than we saw in pictures in the book. When he was having a leisure chat, he revealed about his interactions with Dr. Spittle and good old time stories. Most of all, he told how much he miss Dr.Spittle and he at least wanted to see his daughter.

Old Chief Vaddha, Gomba was telling me his good old stories..


There is something else I want to note here: These Veddha’s life conditions seemed so pathetic. Their lives had been vastly affected by poverty. May be due to lack of knowledge on family planning, their families had become unbearably big, yet they didn’t have any means of earning money to feed them. We just shared some of the food we brought, but it showed the need of a long term rehabilitation program for this community. Not like Veddas of Dambana, this community seemed to have a lack of knowledge on outside world and lack of communication with authorities.

After a couple of years, I saw in the newspapers, that Gomba had been awarded the Kala-Bhooshana award for his contribution towards the culture of Sri Lanka. Of course, it is admirable since they carry some historical and vanishing cultural values to Sri Lankan society, but steps are to be taken to improve their living standards too.

We started the hike the following day with two guides from the village, namely Wijeya and Sadhathissa. Wijaya was an expert on jungle life with unbelievable instinct. He said he was hunting animals for his living. He was with a mysterious and weather beaten face. Our theories on wildlife conservation seemed inapplicable for these people who have day to day confrontations with bitter poverty. We walked behind him and he was leading the team; walked without any noise or talk; carrying his illegal shot gun. Each time, we met a wild animal, Wijaya managed to give us notice in advance! I think he had very much developed ability to smell or hear those in a distance. Sadhathissa was a much talkative small-made person who managed to tell us their experiences with wildlife and some narrow escapes from terrorists!

Under the shades of terrorism, tree-cutting had been done massively and naked earth had been exposed to intense heat of sunlight which made our walking too so difficult, when it was reaching noon.

Our initial plan was to go up to the top of the rock and see the historical pool full of clear water and then we spend the night in the nearby cave right down the ridge of mountain facing a dangerous looking steep.

We had done a big mistake by relying on one spring of water. When we reached, it had been dried and drinking water we carried was not enough to spend two days! I was already dehydrated, that made me difficult to move further. Anyway, we decided to find some more sources for water but I said I need to sit and rest so others could proceed with searching. Due to the threat of wild elephants in the area, keeping me alone for resting seemed foolish and Dr.Nihal volunteered to stay with me with some fire-crackers to use in case. Anyway, search hadn’t been successful, but we came up with the bright idea of using the water in the pool up on the rock for drinking after boiling. I felt much better after some rest and consuming some dried date fruits and Jeewani. We reached the top of the fortress around 3 pm and it was a fantastic feeling!

It was quite hard to believe that a man made pool full of water could remain in such a high altitude. This was a marvelous piece of evidence for the prosperity and high life style existed in the past within the fortress. Mr.Ranasinghe’s book says that water was so pure that they managed to have a nice bath in it, but we saw the pool had been infected with algae and bathing was impossible.

We heard a very strange story from Sadhathissa which explained how this pond got polluted. It was as below;

It was 1989, where whole country was having a dark time with the rise of young generation against the government. We were coming towards Nuwara Gala for a hunt.. When we reached the top we saw some uniformed people are occupying there.. we also saw a helicopter and few civil people and I identified one of the famous politicians son within them… in a little time those armed people started shooting at us.. We vanished through the bushes and came straight to the village and hide… After that we observed they had tried to pump water out and find something… we didn’t know whether it was treasure, anyhow water within the pool got polluted after this incident!” (Note :I can’t guarantee about the truth of this, but this is what I was told)

After spending some time near the pool we came to the cave and spent the night. It was a Poya day and night was as amazing as could be. View of the jungle towards the steep was like a water color painting.. moon light had given a fantastic glittering effect which made us watching it for a long time before going to sleep.

Next day, we came back in a different route which was rich with most of the ruins and rich historic structures.
Night I spent in Nuwara Gala cave is one of the best nights I have ever spent in wild!


Team before starting the hike (with Vijaya, Sadhatissa, Gomba, Principal and another teacher of the school)

Man-made pool on the top of the rock.


Valuable artifacts to be studied by archeologists

Dangerous yet, beautiful steep down the cave



Note
* After sometime, Dr.Nihal Dayawansa introduced us to Mr. Douglass B. Ranasinghe and we told him how his book infected us with enthusiasm for exploring the wild. We also managed to discuss and compare the changes we saw in Nuwara Gala after decades. We wanted to visit this site again as an one group consist of both generations, but couldn’t materialize it till today.

Pledge to go fur-free!

8/20/09


Consumers everywhere need to know the truth about fur. When people learn that millions of innocent animals are beaten, boiled, hanged, and electrocuted for their fur every year ... when they learn that every fur coat, lining, trim, or fur cat toy represents the intense suffering of several dozen animals? and when they learn that furriers intentionally mislabel fur as not taken from dogs and cats or as fake ... then every decent human being will want to go FUR-FREE.

Peta.org is working to educate people of the world about this barbaric trade. If you want to see the real situation please check the Videos in the site. You will be shocked.

Please make sure you are not supporting this trade by any mean.
Please sign the pledge.

Exploring Kudumbigala

8/3/09

Kudumbigala is one of the wonderful places I have ever explored. It is an old monastery which had been re-discovered in recent past. Most fascinatingly, it has become one of the most interior monasteries, where Theravadhi Buddhist monks are occupying under very basic facilities. They just focus on their meditation and ignore the life threats that would come at anytime through a wild animal, especially from sloth bears. They just live a very basic life in the monastery, which is surrounded by bushes and beasts. They say that they are not attacked by any of the animals since they practice the meththa of Buddhist teaching all the way.

Kudumbigala is a very beautiful place with extraordinary tranquility and peaceful surrounding. It had been built in a land of boulders that provides caves, which had been converted into isolated facilities for meditation. Apart from what monks are using currently, there are ruins of very big constructions all over. The whole site is an artistic creation. Historical value of this site is to be revealed by historians and take the necessary steps to protect those artifacts.

Re-discovery of the site had been done by Thambugala Ananda Thero, who first visited the site in 1954. I simply can’t imagine his determination because he had started to stay there alone for years. His famous book “25 Years of life in the jungle” explains his wonderful experiences in wild.

As we did, one can plan an expedition to visit Kudumbigala and Kumana together. There are a lot of other fascinating places in the area, such as Okanda beach and the famous kovil. We spent a couple of nights in the monastery and spent one camping night in banks of Kumbukan River (Near Gal Amuna). Kumana is another massive site which always gives me a mysterious feeling.

Remaining of Kumana village recalled me the last chapters of the famous novel “Village in the Jungle” by Leonard Woolf. Village which had been the background for that novel, Baddegama too said to have vanished within the bushes of the jungle….!

Below Photos were captured by Roshan Kumara.


Okanda Beach


Thambugala Thero’s book was referred on the way…




Dr. Aruna is preparing some Beetles for chief monk.


Devotees use to come there for almsgivings..


Sri Lankan Sand Boa (Kota pimbura) Gongylophis conicus brevis.


Okanda Kovil






Remainings of famous Bambaragasthalawa Buddha Statue..




Kumana Willuwa


Kumbukkan Oya








Hegemonic agenda of media giants

5/18/09


These are two polls conducted by CNN to get viewers idea on two issues. I wonder, what could be the criteria they used to identify a cause or issue to do such a poll. For me, terrorist problem could decide my life or death, as a Sri Lankan. It seems, CNN is having same scale of interest in car selling statistics…

In post capitalist society, just like what we have today, media does the part which had been done by the warships and fighter planes did in past world wars. I think this is the most dangerous situation ever. Terrorism and Media seems to be two parallel instruments that the first world used to challenge the independence in other states.

Media not only attack people but mentally disables people. CNN like media could control the minds of the world to ignore the Rwandan Genocide, but to cry for the WTC attack in US.

I got below e-mail that explains the duty of media today; It is quite true and funny;

A man sees a woman getting chased by a dog.
When the dog is about to bite the woman, the man intervenes and kicks the dog.
A reporter was seeing all this.
He said "That was great. I'll definitely publish this in newspaper.
Tomorrow the headline will be 'LOCAL HERO SAVES LADY FROM A DOG'."
The man replied "Thank you, but I'm not from here. I am from US".
Reporter " OK.
Then the headline will be US CITIZEN SAVES WOMAN FROM A DOG".
Man: Actually, I live in US but I'm not a US citizen. I'm a Pakistani national".
Next day, the headline in the paper read ....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
....
TERRORIST ATTACKS A LOCAL DOG....

Commitment & its tragedy

4/28/09


At the end of a dull week, in late 2002, I was thinking of spending the weekend in wild. I spoke to few chaps around me and could collect only two to join me (Prasanna and Devana). That Friday night, we drew to Yala and entered the park in the dawn. Any way, we found that rain had hit Yala so badly.

We were discovering for some interesting wildlife and forest was so different with the heavy rain occurred after a considerable period of dry season. The characteristic of rain is far different in dry zone than wet zone. In Yala, rain had made most of the motorable roads, muddy marshes; some of the roads had vanished with the heavy soil erosion. Under this condition transportation became really hard, but we could sight some rewording wildlife including one bear mum with two cubs playing in the rain.

Even though, we had planned to drive back in the night, I found myself really sick and experienced difficulty in breathing. I realized that I had been hit by a wheeze (a minor asthma) like condition. Driving back seemed really impossible and we didn’t have any other alternative either. Then we spoke to one of the wildlife officers in the entrance and explained our situation. That officer was so kind and was helpful enough to give us his quarters to stay the night! Not only that, he quickly made arrangements with a local family to get our meals prepared. Following morning we left Yala after thanking this nice gentleman for his outstanding helping hand extended to us…

After couple of weeks, we heard that the range officer who helped us, Mr. Kumarasinghe had been killed in action, while he was on an operation to reveal Ganja Chena cultivation within the park. He had been shot.

Kumarasinghe had joined the department of wildlife after obtaining his BSc. degree from University of Peradeniya and had performed his duties in an exemplary manner. He was so smart and rigid. As I heard later, some higher officers too didn’t like to see him work that smarter…!! He had initiated to detect the tusks of famous “Dalaputtuwa” killed by ivory hunters.

While investigations were done only, it had been found that Kumarasinghe had been shot by one of his fellow team mates in the operation!

Now everything is in past… Each time, I visit Yala, through my thoughts; I commemorate this nice gentleman who sacrificed his life for the conservation of wildlife in Sri Lanka…

I don’t know the conclusions of the police investigations on this murder, but I feel it is his honesty and commitment towards the job made him pay by his life..

This is just one true story of an honest government officer who wanted to give a meaningful service to the nation.

Bird Ringing at Kanneliya Forest Reserve

4/15/09




Bird ringing is an interesting activity done by birders and ornithologists. Bird ringing is a way of studying wild birds by attaching a metal or plastic ring to bird’s leg, so that various aspects of bird’s life can be studied.

For example, suppose a birder in Himalaya area capture and rings a bird. Ring itself contains only a number and he has all the details (Location, size, weight & etc.) about the bird he records in that instance against the number. If we manage to re-trap the same bird at Sinharaja Forest in Sri lanka, from the number on the ring direct us to the previously recorded information about the bird. So we can reveal some information about the bird by comparing the old details with the current condition. Specifically, it proves that the bird has migrated from Himalaya to Sinharaja!

For me, most interesting study is identifying of bird migration through bird ringing. Migration is one of the most wonderful scenarios in the nature. It is simply the move, made by birds, when environmental conditions are not that favorable for them. In much comprehensible words; most significant bird migration in the world is the birds of northern hemisphere, when it is winter, fly to feeding grounds near tropical countries. Once winter is over, they used to fly back to their countries. Distance they cover on the way is sometime more than 10,000km!

We better discuss about bird migration in detail, in some other post. Anyway, this is the reason that you (Sri Lankans) see some strange kinds of birds in your garden in September-October season and vanish again in April. At least you should know, definitely they are the guests who visited you from most faraway places.

Below photos were taken in Kanneliya forest reserve of Galle district, while we were doing some bird ringing with a team of ornithology students from University of Colombo, led by their ecologist Dr. Nihal Dayawansa. (Photography by Roshan Kumara)

Preparing the traps

Bird is trapped in the mist net.

Bird is being carefully removed from the net for ringing.

Black Headed Bulbul

Yellow fronted Barbet (an endemic Bird)

Brown Capped Babbler (an endemic bird)

Team who participated the program.


Dr. Waldemar’s Gallery

3/24/09

Waldemar Krzywania is a polish doctor, who dives to capture the beauty under the sea. I met him while he was in Sri Lanka on his long journey of searching coral reefs; we had a dive to the Conch wreck near Akurala which added more beautiful photos to his collection.

Please visit his gallery.


A night at mara-vidiya (Deadly path)

2/20/09

Sigiriya is a well-known fortress that is very famous not only in Sri Lanka, but in whole world. Most people don't realize Sri Lanka has yet a similar kind of fortress type historical places still beneath the shades of jungles. Nuwara Gala (Close to Pollebedda off Maha Oya) and Dimbulagala (16 km off Polonnaruwa) are two such places.  

Dimbulagala had been neglected and was hidden within the jungles till Kithalagama Sri Seelalankara Thero explored, started to reconstruct and invited the Buddhist devotees to start pilgrimage. Seelalankara Thero has played a remarkable role in identifying the historical importance of the place and is doing his community service for the poor people in the area. His influence had made some Vadda people to become Buddhist monks. He also gave the moral support for the villagers who were living in the border villages, where LTTE threat was so high. Anyway, Seelalankara Thero was shot dead by LTTE terrorists in May 1995.

The Stamp released by postal department of Sri Lanka to commemorate the Seelalankara Thero and Location of Dimbulagala historical site.

My story starts from some other place! One Mr. S.D. De Lanerolle had written a nice book (i.e. Wana Nadiya) on his expedition from Mahiyanganaya to Trincomalee through the Mahawali River on small boats in 1951. Famous wildlife enthusiast Eric Swan, who was later killed by a wild elephant attack while trying to photograph them, was among his team members. They had stepped in to Dimbulagala & explored some of the historical places even before Seelalankara Thero visited there. This beautiful literature, Wana Nadiya provides very nice article on their experience in Dibulagala and mostly, about the historical value of the site. So this made us go and see the site by ourselves. 

You should not consider Dimbulagala as an isolated temple, but a complex of historical places such as Namal Pokuna complex, frescos at Pulligoda, Aushada Pokuna and a lot more. 
We were amazed by Namal Pokuna site that contained a lot of ruins of historical constructions and also visited Pulligoda which consist of wonderful frescos. We happened to visit Aushada Pokuna in a late evening which made us feel Wow! It was located in a high mountain which is surrounded by thick forest. It is a complex of caves which consist of two crystal clear water ponds in it. Certain areas of the complex had been constructed by men. Archeologically important entities were everywhere including the remains of two Buddha statues. They were like remaining live proves for the rich and wealthy culture we had in the ancient times.  
 
We decided to spend the night in the cave in order to add some more adventurous taste or else to cater our need of spending some significant time away from so called civilized world!
Once we decided to stay there, Channa told; "Now we don't care who the Obama is..!" 
We agreed. When you spend a night in an isolated cave in a jungle, definitely, your priorities get changed at least for a small moment. We knew this kind of a decision has been taken by a group of people in the same place more than half a century ago. 

See what they had told.. hmm.. this is Mr. Lanerolle's words… 







Actually we sat on the cave & read this chapter & could analyze the difference. They have had 9 well-equipped people, while we have only 3 people. We don't have any weapon rather than a jungle knife carried by Devana. A liter, water bottle, three torches, a packet of cream crackers, a pack of dried date fruit were the only remaining stuff we had!

Path to this granite cave is called Mara-Vidiya (i.e. Deadly path) since ancient times. This name is very much appropriate since a very narrow ridge to the cave is very much dangerous; if you slip the feet, you will be fallen down to about 500 meters! If a wild animal encountered, since we don’t have any weapon, you have to run through this narrow passage!

Whatever happened, we didn't have an option to revert the decision since night had already come to the door step. Night was so nice & pleasing. We lit a bonfire as the main security measure.  We forgot nonsense in rate-racing life in Colombo and started talking about life, arts & nature. We just heard the roaring of few wild beasts from a distance. Cold breeze of the dawn was so unbearable since we didn't have bed sheets or sleeping bags!  All those stuff were in the car boot down the hill, miles away!

As Mr. Lanerolle says, sun rise was extra ordinary.. So beautiful and refreshing! Entire range we could see from the cave consisting tanks, rivers, paddy fields and bushes became glittering with the morning sunshine. Whole jungle was awaken with a new life while sun was releasing his very first golden rays of the day… that made us feel, spending the night in the cave was worth indeed!

Now, all are like a dream! We drew back to Colombo. Cars are going too fast to over take another one.. Drivers push horns without any reason. We were passing a lot of boutiques, villages and finally cities. Now we are back with the civilization led by money and power. We were having our inspiration of the unforgettable night we spent in the cave.

"Now we care who the Obama is..!"

Some of the photos captured;




Comparing our information with Villagers..





Narrow Path to the Cave complex called Mara-Vidiya or Deadly path.



Entrance to one of the Caves..


Frescos at Pulligoda..


 
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