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Wednesday, 12 May 2010






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Urgent action called for saving sanctuary

The Kokilai sanctuary has been cleared by using backhoes, harming the ecosystem of the whole area. About 40 hectares from the lagoon boundary into the forest have already been cleared.

Kokilai, a treasure
* Located in Kuchchaweli

* Declared sanctuary 1952

* Land area: 1995 hectares

* Wildlife: 35 elephants, 176 birds

The cleared land is in Kuchchaweli in the Thenamaranwadiya Divisional Secretariat in the Trincomalee district.

Two people involved in this activity have been arrested by Trincomalee wildlife officers Sunday. They are to be produced before the Kebithigollewa High Court today.

Sri Lanka Nature Forum Sajeewa Chamikara said, cleared mangroves are piled up in the bare land, and the forest was set on fire resulting in a massive destruction to the area.

The fire has also spread deeper into the forest. The intention could be to clear the land for cultivation.

“Two people were seen clearing the forest even yesterday, and a hidden backhoe was also spotted in the forest,” Chamikara said.

“The impact has become severe with the prevailing rainy weather. Soil in the cleared areas will be carried to the lagoon with the rain water filling up the lagoon,” he noted.

Kokilai was declared a sanctuary in 1952, and it consists 1,995 hectares. Chamikara emphasized that, “the forest is the abode for about 35 wild elephants, and is a haven for migrant birds. Migrant birds enter the country over the Kokilai lagoon.

The number of resident and migrant birds in the sanctuary amount to 176. Three Black-necked stork birds, which are included in IUCN 2007 data book as critically endangered bird species, are also found in this sanctuary.

He also mentioned that this is a clear violation of the National Environment Act.

“The main problem against taking action against these activities is the lack of Wildlife Conservation and Central Environmental Authority branches in the region. While carrying out accelerated development projects in the North and East, natural habitats of wildlife should be secured, by understanding the importance of conserving natural ecosystems,” he said. 


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