Commitment & its tragedy


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


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.

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