All Newsletters

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH & APRIL

SRI LANKA WILDLIFE NEWS (October 2006 to April 2007)
– A compilation by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne and Ajanthan Shantiratnam
HIGHLIGHTS
[*] Butterflies, dragonflies and birds at Sinharaja, Black-naped Oriole, etc. See BIRDING & WILDLIFE NEWS.
[*] Raptors, Reptiles, Waders, Salim Ali’s writings, photo booklets on birds and dragonflies, etc. See PUBLICATIONS.
[*] Responsible Tourism Map. New gallery at Colombo Museum. See PRESS RELEASES.
BIRDING & WILDLIFE NEWS
‘Hetti’ reports from a nature tour with Chris Brewer from 19th March to 2nd April 2007. “Four leopard sightings at Yala. On 26th March one male at Rakinawala Junction at 3.30 p.m. Around 5.45 p.m. another male at Diganwala. On 27th March at 7.30 a.m. two Leopards sighting at Rakinawala. At Sinharaja, near Maguruwala, on 29th March birding highlights included a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo around 8.00 a.m”.
Hetti on a Nature tour with Brian Morris from 11th April to 18th April 2007 had more leopard sightings on 13th April at 3.15 p.m at Kotigala (Leopard Rock) and later at 5.40 p.m. at Diganwala.
Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne reports from a visit to Sinharaja on 14 and 15 March 2007. “Near a patch of Kekilla (15 March) I photographed Marsh Skimmer (Orthetrum luzonicum) and a Green Garden Lizard (Calotes calotes). Later, at Kudawa I photographed Asian Skimmer (Orthetrum glaucum) and Indigo Dropwing (Trithemis festiva). On the stream on the Kudawa – Waturawa Gate road I had Shining Gossamerwing (Euphaea splendens) and Sri Lanka Cascader (Zygonyx iris), two more additions to the trip list. The Cascader never settled, but disappeared from view when it became overcast. The Maguru Wala inside the reserve had a female Black-tipped Flashwing (Vestalis apicalis). But as it was overcast, the rest of the odonata had disappeared, except for a Pink Skimmer (Orthetrum pruinosum) which was fiercely patrolling the ephemeral puddle on the main trail.
Sudha (the compulsory local guide) sighted a Scaly Thrush whilst I was searching for odonata. On the way back, I was surprised to have a Brown-capped Babbler a few feet away from me out in the open on the road. By the time I changed lenses, it had moved in. Waiting patiently we found a pair which was collecting nesting material and foraging seemingly un-concerned at our presence. I keep being struck by how birds are becoming more and more tame at Sinharaja as contact with people is teaching them that people are not a threat. The Brown-capped Babblers gave a series of excellent views. Later they were joined by another 2 or 3. Some singing ensued. Were the others part of an earlier brood or neighboring territory holders? I cannot be sure. Legge’s Flowerpecker was seen by me a few times. Generally, flock activity during the three days was very low and most unlike Sinharaja. For some reason the very dry weather has made it less efficient for the birds to engage in mixed species feeding flocks.
At Kudawa, a Ceylon Frogmouth is nesting on a tree beside the road in front of the street shops and near the ticket office. Once again, proof that birds are not disturbed by people, provided they are not hunted or threatened in any way. The Ceylon Frogmouth slumbered whilst school children shouted and laughed and the passenger bus to Kalawana rumbled underneath.
Near the Waturawa gate, a single Purple-faced Leaf Monkey was eating a Hibiscus flower. It looked quite comical holding a large yellow flower in its hands. The white rump and tails are quite prominent in the southern race vetulus. The Jak trees near the gate are no longer in fruit. Although a troop of the leaf monkeys still frequent this area, in the absence of the Jak trees in fruit, photographing them is much harder. It struck me later that the ban on cutting and transporting Jak trees are a real lifesaver for the endemic monkeys. One of the reasons they still hold out in disturbed habitats is because there are Jak trees which provide them with fruit. If the ban is lifted, leaf monkey populations may suffer a catastrophic decline. The ban on harvesting Jak trees for timber is actually done on humanitarian grounds. The thinking of the government is that if there was no ban, almost all of the Jak trees, especially in poor households, will be felled for timber. The food provided over the lifetime of the Jak tree, far outweighs the immediate cash received for timber. The Jak tree is an important food buffer for Sri Lanka’s poor.
At the Maguru Wala I photographed a plant with red berries. Martin Wijesinghe identified it as Aperosa lanceolata (Wal Bombu).
On the 14th March, a small feeding flock near the barrier gate held Ceylon Rufous Orange-billed Babblers, a pair of Layards Squirrell and at least one Dusky Squirrel. There is a feeding station near the Waturawa barrier and Ceylon Junglefowl visit it. A Layards Squirrel also visits it. A family of 4 or 5 Scimitar Babblers gave me an opportunity of photographing them. I was also shown a nest near Martin’s. It is nesting in a hollow created amongst the leaf litter. Apparently there was a nest of Red-faced Malkohas near it, which is no longer in use.
Several sightings and vocalisations heard of the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. Around 8.00 a.m. there was an impressive bout of calling by a male. In the evening I took some grainy images of the leaf monkey leaping across trees on their way to a roost. I did well on the mammals with Layards and Dusky Squirrel.
A Chestnut-backed Owlet called around 8.00 a.m. It must have called intermittently for 15 minutes or more. Legge’s Flowerpecker, Layards Parakeet, etc were heard. Surprisingly, I did not see Crested Drongo, although I heard it call. Blue Magpies and Trogon near the Maguru Wala. The White-bellied Drongo nesting near the Watuwara gate imitated Sparrowhawk and the Crested Drongo.
I observed Tree Nymphs in what seemed like mate guarding behaviour. One, the larger of the two would perch on a leaf. I suspect it was ovi-positing. Meanwhile the smaller of the two, the male would hover furiously over it. The female would then fly off to another tree followed by the male who would repeat hovering and guarding the female. If the male is mate guarding, then it must mean another male can render the previous mating void.
Sudha identified the one of the plants it laid on as Lameeriya. I took a few leaves back to Martin Wijesinghe who confirmed the ID and also told me about the following plants on which the Tree Nymph lays eggs. Clesthanthus ferrugineus (Lameeriya), C. pallidus (Wal Madara), C. collinus (Madara), C. patulus (Gal Ata) and Vernonia herboria (Kobomalla). Martin is a storehouse of knowledge. Unfortunately very few of his field observations are documented.
A male Red Helen and a Blue Mormon visited the Ixora at Martin’s. The damp soil near the Maguru Wala had half a dozen blues, of which I think there were two kinds of Line Blue. Great Crow was seen at least twice. Other butterflies included Common Birdwing and Bluebottle. It was generally poor for the larger butterflies with no Ceylon Rose, Clipper and Commander being seen. Lots of ceruleans, etc. The highlight was exploring the stream and finding Yerbury’s Elf (Tetrathemis yerburii) and Two-spotted Threadtail (Elattonura bigemmata). A pair of Black-tipped Flashwings (Vestalis apicalis) were also present.
I only saw Kangaroo Lizard (Otocryptis wiegmanni) twice. The second time it was a pair with the male displaying to a female. Its head was a beautiful emerald green. My photographs also show the emerald green on its eye lids. One un-identified skink and a tree snake in a hurry was about all on the reptiles. It rained heavily at 5.00 pm. The second day of consecutive rain after a lull of three weeks”.
Ceylon Bird Club Birding News (08 March 2007) carried the two following reports.
“ – Two Black-naped Orioles, the third record for the species in Sri Lanka, at the
Govt. Hospital at Warakapola, in the wooded area between the DMO quarters
and the main buildings, reached by the road next to the MOH office.
– Osprey at Navadankulama, but sometimes not seen for several hours.
Each of the two reports was given by several members”.
Chandima Jayaweera on tour with Walter Baele on 28th Feb in Sinharaja observed a Blue Magpie nest with two chicks being fed by adults. The nest was built on a Syzigium tree, three meters above from the ground. During one & half hour’s watching they observed the adults feeding the chick and removing waste.
‘Hetti’ on a birding tour with Rosemary Jackson & Rose Newsom from 8th Feb to 23rd Feb 2007, reports the following. “On 11th Feb at 10.00 a.m Ceylon Spurfowl both male & the female near the Sinharaja gate. Birding highlights included three Red-necked Phalarope seen at saltpans in Bundala at 7.45 a.m. on 14th Feb and at 6.30 p.m. Thirty Small Pratincole seen at Palatupana Saltpans, catching insects in flight. Two leopard sightings at Yala on 15th Feb at 6.50 a.m on the main road, and at 5.00 p.m another sighting at Rukvila.
Andy Swash and Dave Smallshire on a 18 days birding and dragonfly watching tour (starting 9th Feb 2007) travelled with Wicky and photographed 28 of the 33 endemic birds. They managed to see all 33. Dave and party were joined in the field by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne and they managed to photograph some of the highland species of dragonflies.
‘Hetti’ was on tour with a Taiwan Birding Group from 28th Jan to 8th Feb 2007. Two leopard sightings at Yala. On 1st Feb one male, Main Road 0630 a.m. Around 4.30 p.m another male on Madapara road. On 2nd Feb at 0745 a.m. a Pied Avocet was seen in Bundala Saltpans. At Horton Plains on 4th Feb a Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush seen near Arrenga pool and in the same day a Slaty-legged Crake seen at St. Andrew’s Hotel premises.
Julie Wakeham, a semi professional photographer on her tailor made ten days Leopard Safari travelled with Wicky from 2nd Feb 2007. They had a total of nine half day safaris. They got off to a great start when they spotted two cubs and a mother at Suduweli Mulla on the first day. They ended up with a total of 14 sightings of leopards which included sightings of ten individual leopards. They had a good run of the mammals at Yala National Park which included three sightings of Sloth bears, a tusker and sambar.
Helen and Grahame Hopwood on a 15 days birding tour with Wicky (14 – 28 Jan 2007), were delighted to connect with all 33 endemics and saw 32 of them. They heard the Serendib Scops Owl at Kelani Valley Forest Reserve. They started with a good day at Talangama wetland, mopping up most of the regular wetland birds. They had an excellent sighting of the Oriental Bay Owl at Sinharaja Rainforest during their three nights stay at Martin’s Simple Lodge.
Chandima Jayaweera on tour with Miles Roberts from the UK from 11th Jan to 25th Jan 2007 sends in the following sightings. “One Sloth Bear at Talgasmankada Junction at Yala National park on 15th January at around 1700 hrs. On the same day around 1735 hrs they had a leopard on the main road. On 16th January, around 0920, they saw 2 leopard cubs at Hadunoruwa Wewa.
Lyn Gayler reports on a sighting of Otter from Hunas Falls Hotel. She says “We saw the otter just before we left on Friday morning (8th December 2006). We were sitting having breakfast and the waiter came and told us. There were a number of people there and we watched it for quite a few minutes, until it went back into its holt. They did say it was not the usual time and we were lucky to have such a good sighting – normally it is seen around about 6.00 a.m.
‘Hetti’ on a Birding Tour With Rockjumper Birding Group from 20th Nov to 30th Nov 2006 reports the following. “On 23rd November 2006 at 4.45 p.m a Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush seen at Hakgala Road, Nuwara Eliya. One male leopard Sighting at Yala on 25th November , Rakinawala 5.10 p.m. On 29th November at 7.30 a.m an Oriental Bay Owl seen at Sinharaja near Blue Magpie Lodge.”
Ceylon Bird Club Birding News (12 November 2006) carried the following report.
“Black-capped Kingfisher again at Talpitiya bridge, south of Panadura on Galle
Road near km post 31, seen at 5 p.m on 12 November by W D H Perera”.
St. Andrew’s Hotel naturalist Asitha Jayarathna recorded two pairs of Indian Blue Robins from the Hotel Wetland on 07th October around 8.00a.m. He observed male birds fighting around the biggest pond of the wetland. On the next day, when he visited the wetland, only one male bird was on the ground.
Ceylon Bird Club Birding News (5 November 2006) carried the following report.
“Around 50 Marsh Sandpipers at the Kotte wetlands in the flat area, now under water,
next to the soccer complex at Beddagana, at c. 6 p.m on Nov. 3rd and 5.00-5.15
p.m on Nov. 4th , reported by Kiran Kumaranayagam.”
Ayanthi Samarajewa sends in these observations. “14 October 2006, 8-9a.m, naked eye observation, Kitulgala (Plantation Hotel, Kitulgala). The following birds were observed while having breakfast in the restaurant. Emerald Dove, Common Kingfisher, Little Cormorant, Black-headed Oriole, Oriental Magpie Robin, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and Black-capped Bulbul.”
At Dickoya around 1.00p.m on the Norwood Estate, House Sparrows, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Barn Swallows, Grey Wagtail. I heard a call of a bird which sounded like a Small Scaly-bellied Woodpecker. I was not able to see the bird but heard if for a while. I am familiar with it from Nilgala. Chinthaka Kaluthota from FOGSL has reported in the Malkoha (Newsletter) that he had seen this bird in August in the same place (at Norwood Bungalow)”.
Sunil Gunatilake reports the arrival of Indian Pittas to Polonnaruwa on 15th October 2006. He thought they were earlier last year.
Ceylon Bird Club Birding News (13th October 2006) carried the following report. “Amila Salgado reports a Common Coot in Nuwara Eliya Lake on 7 October”.
SHORT ARTICLES
200 Cetaceans off Sri Lanka’s South Coast (23rd February 2007)
Sunela Jayawardene
Departing Mirissa by 7a.m, aboard the custom-built whale-watch boat Spirit of Dondra, Pradip Jayewardene & Sunela Jayewardene along with their families and two friends, headed out of Weligama Bay towards the Southern Shipping lane in search of cetaceans [whales & dolphins].
About 3km offshore, just short of the shipping lane, we found ourselves in the midst of a large pod of 200 or more cetaceans, swimming at high speed and breaching all around us in small groups. These small [3m -6m in length] dark and short-nosed toothed whales were noisy enough to be heard to our boat.
They seemed as curious as we were and though keeping a distance of at least 10m, raced with the boat and even as we turned back for land due to rough seas their tall, curving dorsal fins were visible as, more were heading towards our boat from every direction!
Their identity is not clear. They may be False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens), Pygmy Killer Whales (Feresa sp.) or Melon headed Whales (Peponocephala sp.).
Arjan Rajasuriya of NARA and Anouk Illagakoon were consulted to try and establish these cetaceans identity.
Further reference.
http://www.marinethemes.com/falsekiller.html
http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/robin/Discriminating-between-pygmy-and-melon-headed-whales.pdf
The 54’ Spirit of Dondra can be hired for similar expeditions from the Mirissa Harbour and costs $25 per person for a 2 hour expedition. See www.mirissawatersports.com

LETTERS/COMMENTS
Asoska Yapa has the following comments to make on the Entry Fee Structure of National Parks (NPs).
“I write specifically of Yala NP but other national parks probably have a similar charge structure. I think the charge levied on entry is not unreasonable and, I believe, are on par with entry fees at other world class NPs (as Yala NP definitely is). For example, for foreigners Kruger NP in South Africa charges about US$16.50/day + vehicle fees, Kenyan parks charge US$15, Banff NP in Canada Cdn. $8.90/day for all visitors, and Grand Canyon NP in the US $12/person for seven days regardless of citizenship. Just like in Sri Lanka, local visitors at parks in less developed countries pay far less — which is as it absolutely should be.

But the authorities need to have a little bit of imagination. Things may have changed since December 2005 but visitors then had to pay per entry. That can add up. For a family of four foreigners, that amounts to US $120/day for a morning visit plus an afternoon re-entry. In my opinion that’s over the top. It is possible that that a family will go back in anyway but then again they may think that that’s too much. Instead of this rigid structure, why not offer a per entry fee and a per day fee or indeed a per two day fee? The per entry fee could be US$15/person (or even US$20, which is not excessive), the per day fee $25-27.50/person, and a two day fee $40/person? Revenue may well increase under such a fee system. US parks have an annual parks pass for $50.

Or you could work out a system where fees are based on the number of entries per visit. Otherwise it leads to the impression that Sri Lanka is out to fleece visitors and we risk alienating the Park’s best friends. You should see the rationale for variable entry fees offered by South Africa’s National Parks; it is enlightening. The bottom line is that there should be some rationale for the current fee structure”.
NEW PUBLICATIONS
Bedjanic, Matjaz, de Silva Wijeyeratne, G., and Conniff, K. (2006) Dragonflies of Sri Lanka and Southern India. Gehan’s Photo Booklet Series. 1st Edition. 21 plates. Jetwing Eco Holidays: Colombo. ISBN 955-1079-08-6.
A booklet comprising of 21, A5 sized colour plates with captioned photographs. Covers 78 of Sri Lanka’s 117 described species of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata). A pdf of the booklet can be downloaded (free of charge) from www.jetwingeco.com.
de Silva Wijeyeratne, G. (2006). Wildlife of the Dry Lowlands of Sri Lanka & Southern India. Published by Jetwing Eco Holidays: Colombo.
ISBN 955-1079-02-7.
A photographic guide to the commoner animals & plants of the dry lowlands. A 55mm x 100mm sized booklet comprising of 111 colour plates with captioned photographs in English, Sinhala, French and German. Covers the common mammals, replies, butterflies, birds, dragonflies and plants. This books retails at Rs. 700 and can be purchased at all leading bookshops and from Jetwing Eco Holidays at Jetwing House, 6th Floor, 46/26, Nawam Mawatha, Colombo 02, during regular office hours. Email: eco@jetwing.lk
de Silva Wijeyeratne, G. (2006). Butterflies of Sri Lanka and Southern India. Gehan’s Photo Booklet Series. 26 plates. Jetwing Eco Holidays: Colombo. ISBN 955-1079-11-6.
A booklet comprising of 26, A5 sized colour plates with captioned photographs. Covers 96 of Sri Lanka’s 243 described species of butterflies and skippers (Lepidoptera). A pdf of the booklet can be downloaded (free of charge) from www.jetwingeco.com.
de Silva Wijeyeratne, G. (2006). Birds of Sri Lanka and Southern India. Gehan’s Photo Booklet Series. 42 plates. Jetwing Eco Holidays: Colombo. ISBN 955-1079-10-8
A booklet comprising of 42, A5 sized colour plates with captioned photographs. Covers 263 of Sri Lanka’s 444 recorded species of resident and migratory birds. Eco Holidays: Colombo. A pdf of the booklet can be downloaded (free of charge) from www.jetwingeco.com.
Somaweera, R. (2006). Sri Lankawe Sarpayang (‘The Snakes of Sri Lanka’). Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka (WHT). Sinhala. Hardcover. 297 pp. illustrated throughout with line drawings and over 100 color plates. Printed on Royal Glossy Art Paper. Scientific and local language name indices. ISBN 955-911-35-2.
This book, the first comprehensive local language guide to the snakes of Sri Lanka, is aimed at both amateurs and specialists. It concisely describes all of the 98 species of snakes, both terrestrial and marine. The identification of a species has been made easy through photographs of most of the colour variations and phases, close-ups of the head, colour codes for venom group and family and through user-friendly field keys. Each species account includes synonyms, identification (based on morphology, scalation, colouration and size), natural history, venom, food, distribution (locations and a distribution map) and conservation status. The book also contains detailed sections on the natural history of snakes, snake studies in Sri Lanka, snake bites and treatment, conservation of snakes and an up-to-date, complete checklist of the snakes of Sri Lanka.
The aim of the book is to act as a field guide – a guide to students, teachers, museum workers and reptile enthusiasts. But above all it is intended as a practical tool of conservation for the people who live in Sri Lanka a message that is reinforced throughout.

Naoroji, R. (2006). Birds of Prey of the Indian Subcontinent. Helm Identification Guides. Hardback, 704 pages, 24 colour plates, 600 photos. ISBN 9780713663242.
A complete guide to the raptors of the Indian subcontinent. Lavishly illustrated with 24 new plates and around 600 photos, each species is shown in all usual plumage forms, in flight and at rest. The species accounts cover all aspects of field identification, and also include sections on distribution, behaviour, status and population. The Indian subcontinent comprises the countries of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Maldives. This region encompasses a great diversity of habitat types and a full range of altitudinal variation, and has a correspondingly large avifauna. The diurnal birds of prey are well represented – 70 species of hawk, buzzard, kite, harrier, eagle, vulture, falcon and falconet are found in the region. Anyone birding in the Indian subcontinent will find this book an invaluable aid to identifying and understanding the region’s diverse raptor avifauna.

West, J. (2007). Serpent in Paradise. London: Atlantic (2007. 352 pages. ISBN-10: 1843544474 ISBN-13: 978-1843544470.
The Year of Living Dangerously meets Anil’s Ghost in this novel of sexual obsession, exorcism and the search for truth and justice, set in a tormented tropical paradise. The moment Eva agreed to return to the island to report on its ferocious civil war, she knew she would need to confront the ghosts of her past: the fate of her fey mother, Vivienne; her distant father, Armand, who deserted her when she was a child; the once-dashing Caspar, dying slowly in his great decaying house; and Navahiru, the beautiful man-boy who is Eva’s sometime lover. But just as she seems about to understand her neglected childhood, Carl, an all-American journalist, walks into her life. As the violence on the island escalates into genocide, Eva and Carl begin an intensely erotic love affair that envelops them, but also threatens to destroy them. And just as the mystery surrounding Eva’s paternity seems about to be resolved, Navahiru is kidnapped by the security forces and Carl gets trapped in the path of the biggest typhoon to strike the island in years….
Like Ronan Bennett’s The Catastrophist, The Serpent in Paradise evokes in vibrant colour what it means to be engulfed by sex and death at a time of mounting violence and chaos. It is a spellbinding novelistic debut.
JULIAN WEST is a distinguished war correspondent. She has reported from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal for the Telegraph and New York Times, Television. She divides her time between London and New Delhi where she was the Sunday Telegraph’s correspondent for almost a decade. Her mother’s family come from Sri Lanka. The Serpent in Paradise is her first novel.
Julian West has provided the following information on her novel set in Sri Lanka.
Serpent in Paradise is available at Waterstones throughout the UK and on amazon.co.uk. It will probably be available in the sub-continent sometime this year as well as in the US and in translation. For those in Sri Lanka, it should be available at Barefoot.
Review from The Observer
Earlier on in the Nineties, a vicious civil war provides Eva, the photojournalist heroine of Julian West’s Serpent in Paradise (Atlantic £12.99, pp 320), with an opportunity to go to Sri Lanka. The island played a key role in her childhood and in returning, she must confront familiar ghosts: her mother’s lonely fate and the mystery that clings to her paternity. Meanwhile, security forces have abducted her young lover and a torrid affair with an American journalist threatens to run away with her. Neatly interweaving these strands, West navigates currents of sexual obsession and chaos in breezy prose.
Review from Eve Mag
Set in Sri Lanka during the early 1990s, this is a gripping murder mystery and love story written by a foreign correspondent (a woman despite the name). Eva returns to the island of her birth to report on the devastating civil war and starts a passionate but doomed love affair with Carl, an American journalist. A romantic and intense thriller, written with impressive lyricism.
de Silva, A. (2007). The Diversity of Horton Plains National Park. Vijitha Yapa Publications. 275 pages with 143 colour plates.
One of the latest books by Anslem de Silva, Sri Lanka’s leading herpetologist is The Diversity of Horton Plains National Park. This follows on from the large monograph on the Dumbara or Knuckles mountains which he published in 2006. Anslem started his research project at Horton Plains in the 1990s, ss the team leader of the National Zoological Survey of Sri Lanka, and funded by the National Science Foundation, Colombo.
This book with 9 informative chapters covers various aspects of this unique site where one can see cloud forest, grasslands and marshes. The book includes a comprehensive bibliography on published literature on Horton Plains, useful for researchers and cloud forest eco-system managers. The book also benefits from a chapter on Flowering Plants of Horton Plains National Park by Dr. D.S.A. Wijesundara – Director Botanical Gardens. There are 143 colour plates, most photographed by Anslem. It also has excellent photographs by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Siril Wijesundara, Rathnasiri Premathilake and Gehan Chandrawansa. This monograph of 275 pages with 143 colour plates is priced at Rs. 1,499 and is available at all Vijitha Yapa outlets.
Gandhi, T. (Compiler). 2006. A Bird’s Eye View. The Collected Essays and Shorter Writings of Salim Ali. Compiled by Tara Gandhi. Two volumes. Published by Permanent Black, New Delhi.India.
Sálim Ali, without question India’s greatest ornithologist, was a prolific writer. Apart from his many books (the best known being The Book of Indian Birds), he wrote a large number of scientific papers, essays, and popular articles for a variety of journals and magazines. He also broadcast radio talks and gave public lectures as well as interviews.
This body of Sálim Ali’s work has never before been gathered together into a book. This two-volume collection of all these shorter writings, painstakingly ferreted out and put together by Sálim Ali’s former student Tara Gandhi, presents a fascinating array of topics as diverse as the Indian landscapes and birdlife that were his passion. Whether it is the colours of a bird’s feathers or the ecology of the Himalaya mountains or an insightful conservation message, Sálim Ali’s evocative writing style makes reading these two volumes enormously pleasurable. These volumes will seem indispensable to bird lovers, ornithologists, and all who enjoy fine writing.
The price is Indian Rs.1,425 and is sold as a 2-volume set. Royalties will go to the Salim Ali Nature Conservation Fund of the Bombay Natural History Society. For any enquiries contact the publisher on perblack@gmail.com or perblack@vsnl.com. Permanent Black, D-28 Oxford Apartments, 11, IP Extension, New Delhi 110092, India.
Constantine, M et al. (2006). The Sound Approach to birding, a guide to understanding bird sound. Book+2-CDs | #141007 | € 47.12 (excl. VAT)
A useful guide to learn tone, pitch, rhythm, reading sonagrams, acoustics, etc. Learn the facts of bird sound while listening to over 200 exclusive recordings of European birds. With this book you can maximise and improve your standards of identification, whatever the level of your experience. “Bird Book 2006″ according to Birdman of the Sunday Express.
Available from www.birdsounds.nl and other internet based book sellers.
Kumar, A, Kankane, PL & Baqri, QH (2006) Geo-spatial Atlas for Wetland Birds of Thar Desert, Rajasthan. Zool. Surv. India, i-xii; 1-202.
India has 243 species of waterbirds and 67 species of wetland dependent and associated birds, almost half of which are migratory and come to the subcontinent from there breeding grounds in the northern latitudes of Russia, Central Asian countries, China, Mongolia westward to the Persian gulf. Detailed information on the distribution of most of these wetland species, their migration strategies and areas and timings of concentration is not well documented or easily accessible. The country has been characterised by extensive loss of wetlands the in last few decades resulting in a decline in their ability to support a large diversity and abundance of waterbirds. Conservation of these waterbirds hinges on ensuring that safe feeding, resting and nesting sites are maintained and thus conservation and proper management of the remaining wetlands is of extreme importance. Identification of all sites of international and national importance for these species provides a system of prioritization to focus monitoring and conservation on wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) provides an internationally acceptable basis for assessment of such sites. The study area is the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, an arid region fed by a major canal system and characterised by shallow reservoirs, freshwater ponds, escape reservoirs, saline lakes, rivers, etc. A total of 144 wetland bird species, including 17 Globally Threatened species, have been recorded from 275 sites.
de Zylva, U. (2006) Sri Lanka Nature Pictorial. Unigraphics: Colombo. Hard cover (34cm x 30cm). Pages 135.
Dr. Upen de Zylva has launched his new book titled Sri Lanka Nature Pictorial. The book a spectacular photographic presentation of the rich bio diversity of our little island. breathtaking images,….. most in landscape format, with lively captions….. a book that can be enjoyed by anyone who values the green and unspoiled corners of our country. The book is also available from Unigraphyics, 732 Maradana Road, Colombo 10. Call Mahesh on 2694538/2693730 for details.
Fernando, N. & Keuneman, H. (2006). With the Dawn Published by Studio Times Ltd.
Based on the Exhibition Wild Life ’73, an epic poem in words and photographs which unfolds the story of life in the jungle. 230 pgs, 200 black & white photographs, 18cm x 19cm (portrait), duotone printing in Korea. Two editions – Standard & Deluxe can be purchased. Contact: Studio Times Ltd., 16/1 Skelton Road, Colombo 5, + 94 11 2589062, + 94 11 595569. studiot@sltnet.lk. www.studiotimes.net
Message, S. & Taylor, D. (2005). Waders of Europe, Asia and North America Helm Field Guides. Illustrations 80 colour plates. Format Paperback 234x156mm mm. ISBN 9780713652901. RRP £24.99
This new field guide offers a complete identification reference to all of the sandpipers, plovers, stints and other waders found in Europe, Asia and North America. The superb plates show birds at rest and in flight, in every plumage variant likely to be encountered in the region. Species have been grouped, especially on the flight plates, so that similar species are shown close to each other. Facing text summarises key identification pointers to complete a quick-reference, field-friendly guide to this difficult and challenging group.

PRESS RELEASES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
LOCALternative Sri Lanka: A responsible travel map is launched
Sewalanka Foundation is proud to release the first edition of a unique map promoting responsible travel in Sri Lanka. LOCALternative Sri Lanka is the result of six months of research, careful on-site inquiry and steady collaborative work between the writer, Mr Ethan Gelber, local design studio, Impact Solutions, and representatives from the tourism unit at Sewalanka, who set themselves the task of looking at ‘local projects that follow alternative pathways to beneficial ends.’
On the front of the full-colour foldout map (23″ x 55”) – a simple and attractive
schematic of the island – 170 numbered icons spotlight places where nature and
animals come first and people and organisations try to act responsibly. These
places are then described on the back of the map. In the words of a review of the map by the editor of Travelsrilanka magazine: ‘The site descriptions show considerable research, are sensibly standardised, and are well written. A concise site description is followed by a note on the site’s responsible actions. There are also location directions… and contact information.’
Affordably priced at Rs.450, the map is poised to draw much-needed attention to Sri Lanka’s community-based and nature-friendly small enterprises. The map also mentions a few of Sewalanka’s community-based tourism
initiatives, including homestays in the villages of Dunwalla, (near Unawatuna),
Mederapitiya (near Deniyaya) and Kudawa (near Kalawanna) as well as the Dikwella Lace Showroom in the south.
To purchase copies of the map or for further information, visit www.localternative.com or contact Ms Jodi Rockman, Communications Advisor, Sewalanka Foundation on 077 530 7151 or email media@sewalanka.org

HSBC Revamps a Fifth Gallery at The Colombo National Museum
The Stone Antiquities Gallery – now open
The newly refurbished Stone Antiquities gallery at the Colombo National Museum was officially opened on Wednesday, 1 November 2006. The chief guest at the event was the honourable Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, minister for cultural affairs and national heritage. Among the others present at the ceremony were Mike Smith, OBE, president and chief executive officer, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited as well as other officials of the Colombo National Museum and HSBC.
This is the fifth gallery at the Colombo National Museum refurbished by HSBC. While the previous four galleries were history galleries – namely, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Transitional (Post-Polonnaruwa/Pre-Kandy) and Kandy – the Stone Antiquities gallery is the first thematic gallery to be revamped and opened to the public.
The partnership between HSBC and the Colombo National Museum began when the bank stepped forward to sponsor the refurbishment of the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa galleries in 2004. Following this, the bank sponsored the refurbishment of the Transitional and Kandy galleries. All three galleries were opened to the public in 2005 and the bank has donated a total sum of Rs16.5 million up to now towards this long-term project, which is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
Opened in 1877, the Stone Antiquities gallery is as old as the Colombo National Museum itself. The 129-year-old gallery houses an astounding and exquisite array of artefacts, including religious icons, architectonic and decorative sculptures, historic documents and household utensils – including an ancient stone water filter!
The refurbished gallery is divided into four separate sections – namely, stone carvings, epigraphy (also known as inscriptions), the Hindu section and the Buddhist section. The layout of the gallery is breathtaking, with an awe-inspiring stone carving of the Buddha bathed in golden light as the focal point at the end of a corridor lined with various decorative and religious sculptures. The gallery has been designed to give visitors a deeper appreciation of the history of these works of art. Trilingual information panels, neatly arranged artefacts, new displays and a state-of-the-art lighting system will also add to a visitor’s viewing pleasure. The entire layout has been planned according to international standards.
Commenting on HSBC’s long-standing collaboration with the museum, David J H Griffiths, chief executive officer, HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives said, “We are glad that were able to make even a small contribution to preserve the Sri Lanka’s magnificent history for posterity – in fact, it is a contribution we feel privileged and honoured to make.”
Media enquiries to Shiroma D Jayawickrama 0112 448110.
World Environmental Education Congress 2007
The Organisers of the World Environmental Education Congress 2007 would like to bring to the notice of the Sri Lankan public and professionals that this important activity is due to be held in South Africa in mid-2007.

The World Environmental Education Congress of 2007 (4 WEEC) is part of an on-going programme of which 1weec was held in Portugal in 2003, 2 WEEC in Brazil in 2004 and 3 WEEC in Italy in 2005. The South African Congress is scheduled to be followed by 5 WEEC, which will be held in Canada in 2009. The Congress in Italy, organised by Professor Mario Salomone and Dr. Silvia Zaccaria, was held in Turin. It drew a huge number of participants from all corners of the globe. The South African Congress will give an opportunity to experience at first hand environmental challenges in a region of that continent with which most Sri Lankans are not familiar.

Abstracts are presently being invited for consideration for inclusion in the Programme. Details may be consulted from the website. (www.weec2007.com). Information may, also, be obtained from Dr. Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Associate Professor, Murray and Roberts Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainability, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa (email: h.lotz@ru.ac.za). The deadline for abstracts is fast approaching. Some of the items to be included in the Congress activities are;

1) bringing together ‘working groups’ engaged on projects such as health and environment. It is proposed that groups consisting of professors or teachers and graduate students make a group presentation and follow it up by ‘twinning’ with a relevant South African project in the week after the Congress,
2) a ‘network of networks’ meeting (e.g. University networks) with one or two representatives from each network. This will precede the launching of the World Environmental Education Association, and
3) meeting of different editors of different journals at a ‘journaling’ meeting.

Help in diffusing this information to interested parties is earnestly solicited. Participation of a strong contingent from Sri Lanka is much to be desired in the national interest.
Dr. Rohan H. Wickramasinghe (itescolombo@sltnet.lk), Institute for Tropical Environmental Studies, 41 Flower Road, Colombo 7. Tel.: 2691986

SHOP FRONT
Times for the amateur & professional photographer.
Colour Transparency E6 Processing 35mm & 120 @ Rs 500/- per roll (normal service). Studio Times has taken over the unit and the technician from Studio & Lab (formerly M3) and with effect from April 2006, quality colour transparency processing will be undertaken by us. Photo M3 and Studio & Lab has been processing our E6 film for over twenty years. We hope to continue the tradition of quality as established by Mr Marius Perera of Photo M3 and Mr Nihal Fernando of Studio Times and maintain services for those of us who have not been overtaken completely by the digital era.
Contact: Studio Times Ltd, 16/1 Skelton Road, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka. Tel: 2589062, 2595569. Email: studiot@sltnet.lk, Web site: www.studiotimes.net
REQUESTS FOR SUPPORT
Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS)
Namal Kamalgoda from the WNPS sends in the following request for support. “If you have been to Bundala you will know that the park is choked with cactus. This highly invasive plant has taken over a major part of the park, and has displaced the natural vegetation. This in turn has affected the bio diversity of the park. Bundala is a Ramsar Site and is one of the most important wintering locations for migrants birds. It is also the southern most point of the South Asian flight path for migrant bids.
Linea Aqua Pvt Ltd in association with the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society is in the process of collecting funds for the removal of the invasive cactus at Bundala. A pilot project of 5 acres was approved by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC). This was for the purpose of costing. This has now been completed. It is expected to cost Rs.111,000 per acre. This project is community based and is expected to provide valuable employment to local villages. This is a meaningful project expected to have a long term “real” benefit to this park. If you are able to fund an acre as an individual or as a group we will appreciate the funds. This would be an ideal opportunity for any of the corporations that you work for to sponsor a few acres as part of it’s CSR. If you want further information please call me on 0772280270 or email me. We will be happy to forward a formal proposal, to any institution that may require it”.
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SRI LANKA WILDLIFE NEWS is an ad-hoc e-mail of birding and wildlife sightings, events, short notes, articles, and publications etc of interest to birders, photographers, conservationists and tourism professionals reaching over 5,000 subscribers. To receive a copy, please e-mail gehan.slwn@jetwing.lk with “Subscribe Wildlife News” in the subject header. SLWN values your privacy, to be removed, e-mail with “Unsubscribe Wildlife News” in the header. Please e-mail your sightings, events etc to gehan.slwn@jetwing.lk. The media are welcome to extract details, but please attribute the source and author(s). Past issues are on www.jetwingeco.com