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Monday, July 27, 2009

Kandy Esala Perahara

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Sri Lanka, a gift of life for endangered turtles

KOSGODA (Sri Lanka): It's 6.30 p.m. Dusk begins to give way to nightfall when a man walks up to the beach here with a big box containing a

special load -- three-day-old turtles. The box is tipped over, the hatchlings scamper towards the ocean and within minutes they are bobbing away into the waves.

Yet another 'regular' day for 47-year-old K. Chandrasiri Abbrew who has released 3.5 million turtle hatchlings in the past three decades.

As the baby turtles moved further away into the sea, Abbrew said: "It gives me immense happiness to save the lives of these baby turtles."

Abbrew, who runs the Sea Turtle Sanctuary and Research Centre that was started by his father, says that the baby turtles have to be released only after the predatory birds are no longer flying in the sky.

"When we release them, the baby turtles make a dash for the sea. However, some of them find it difficult and we gently help them," he says with a beatific smile.

Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, Abbrew said that from 1979 to 1982, they used to pay Rs.5 for 100 eggs to the fishermen who brought the turtle eggs to them.

"The fishermen would find the turtle eggs and we paid them money so that the eggs were not sold in the market. We want to save the turtles," he explains while standing at the palm-fringed beach in Kosgoda, about 80 km from Colombo.

From 1986 to 1990, they paid Rs.25 for 100 eggs. The rates for the turtle eggs have constantly gone up with Abbrew today paying Rs.800 for 100 eggs. The eggs are laid by the turtles under the sand on an eight-kilometre stretch of the Kosgoda beach.

Turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in Sri Lanka with exotic dishes being prepared specially during weddings. Turtle meat is in great demand in the island nation. "Green turtles face a threat as it is used for preparing soup."

"Animals are not dangerous. People are dangerous," Abbrew says emphatically.

He stated that the survival rate of the turtles has gone up following their efforts.

The turtles taken care of at the sanctuary include green turtles, loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtles, hawk's bill turtles and Olive Ridley turtles.

Explaining the method from the laying of the eggs to the release, Abbrew said that the hatching period varies from 48 days for the green turtles to about 60 days for the leatherback turtles.

"Once the eggs hatch, the day-old turtles are put in a water cubicle. On the third day, we release them."

Abbrew said that their research has revealed global warming is having an impact on the green turtles. "We have noticed that the scales of the green turtles are changing."

The centre does more than release hatchlings; it also takes care of wounded turtles. "Turtles get injured by boats. Right now, we have a turtle whose both front flippers were cut in a boat accident. We are taking care of it. Also, we have a blind loggerhead turtle."

They apply ayurvedic medicines to heal the injuries.

He rues that there is no government help for running the centre. "We raise money through tickets to see the turtles. We have also received support from an international company."

As the next big wave hit the Kosgoda coast, it wiped off the tiny flipper prints left on the sand by the turtle hatchlings and Abbrew began preparing for another day of saving the turtles.
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Sri Lanka is one of the most exciting places to visit with peace finally prevailing

This summer Sri Lanka offers the adventurous holiday maker an exciting array of options. The Indian Ocean island is rapidly becoming a destination of choice for those who want a stimulating vacation to recharge their batteries and energise their outlook.

Whether it’s wandering calmly over the lush central highlands, hanging in a wicker basket as you gaze over the breathtaking views passing lazily beneath you, or the more high-octane thrills of crashing down tumbling river flows in a white water raft, Sri Lanka promises experiences that will persist in the memory long after the thrill of the activity has subsided.

“With peace finally prevailing after almost three decades of strife, Sri Lanka is an ideal getaway for regional travellers being only three and a half hours flying time away from the Gulf," said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

“It’s not all necessarily adrenalin pumping stuff as for the more leisurely inclined explorer, there are pastimes that will allow you to experience the wonders of this tropical isle without so much as breaking into a sweat including hiking tours that take in the varied landscapes of the island and can be conducted at a gentle pace opening up the colourful and abundant array of plants, bird species and other wildlife to be found across the countryside," remarked Ms. Al Mansoori.

Cycling and mountain biking are another way to get about, with undemanding trips available for those who wish to visit the ancient ruins and temples of a country whose history and heritage stretches back thousands of years. Pedalling unhurriedly through the country lanes, you can hear the rustle of the forest come alive and enjoy the whiff and heady scent of flowers in bloom. For those who prefer a greater exercise challenge, the undulating roads of the hill country make for a more intense cycling workout.

If heights are your thing, you can spend some time around the central highlands, home to Mount Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain. Here you can paraglide, flying over the forests and lakes like a bird, or indulge in rope sports, abseiling down sheer cliff faces close to magnificent waterfalls.

Hot air ballooning is also an extremely popular activity in this part of the island and offers a unique way to explore the country as you silently float over the lakes and forests, you can spy deer and elephants who are oblivious to your presence, along with the occasional bemused farmer who has happened to glance upwards!
Water features as a significant part of Sri Lanka’s inland landscape, with turbulent rivers, spectacular falls and calm lagoons for the intrepid enthusiast to enjoy. White water rafting is one of the longest established adventure sports on the island, with rivers providing thrills, glorious scenery and the chance to view life in the villages en route.

The most popular area for rafting is along the Kelani River in Kitulgala, close to where the classic film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ was shot. Canoeists and kayakers can also explore the various waterways, with professionals able to run some extremely challenging rivers that run through the forests.

With all this activity available inland, it’s easy to forget that Sri Lanka also has some magnificent beaches, with one at Unawatuna being acclaimed as one of the world’s top 10. Being a relatively small island, you will never be far from the azure waters and bronze sands of the coast and if lying down and absorbing the rays isn’t for you, you can try your hand at surfing in waters that average a blissfully warm 27°c. Arugam Bay, on the east coast, has long been established as a surfing hotspot, with sufficiently high waves to attract international contests. When conditions are ideal, it is possible to catch a wave that will carry an experienced board rider 800 metres.
Regardless of whether it’s excitement or relaxation that you crave, Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and history is sure to leave you as captivated and charmed as the countless travellers who have visited throughout the ages. The island is only four hours flying time from the UAE and travelling there is easy with SriLankan Airlines. The operator flies to Colombo from Dubai ten times a week and runs a daily service from Abu Dhabi. The operator has been voted Central Asia’s Airline of the Year for two consecutive years.

© 2009 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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Botanic Gardens in Sri Lanka

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya:(109 km. from Colombo) The Gardens date back to the Kandyan kingdom, when they were used as royal pleasure grounds. However, it was soon after the British seized the Kandyan Kingdom that they were established in 1821. The Gardens are elegantly landscaped over 150 hectares of beautifully undulating grounds. Within this large loop of the meandering Mahaweli Ganga is a spectacular display of more than 400 species of indigenous tropical flora and exotic plants.

Hakgala Botanic Gardens:After the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, Hakgala, 10km (6 miles) south of Nuwara Eliya, is the second most important garden in Sri Lanka. Though on a smaller scale than those at Peradeniya, Hakgala's plantations of roses, shrubs, ferns and montage woodland are delightfully located, with scenic views. Above the gardens, a forest trail leads into virginwoodland - the home of a troop of purple-faced leaf monkeys, a species endemic to Sri Lanka, and to endemic bird species including the Sri Lanka white-eye, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, and Sri Lanka whistling thrush.Open daily from07:30 to 17:00.

Viharamahadevi Park:This is the largest of several parks in Colombo. It is the last remnant of the cinnamon plantations that covered adjacent land, giving the residential area of Cinnamon Gardens its name. The park is a wonderful sight from March to May, when its trees burst into flower. You can see ebony, mahogany, fig, lemon and the last cinnamon trees from the plantations established over a hundred years ago. Tethered in the shade and swaying to and fro in one corner of the park may be elephants, sometimes parked here for the night. During peraheras held at nearby temples, upto fifty or so elephants may be accomodated here for about a week.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Sri Lanka - Miracle

Sri Lanka is an island of no great size, yet it has an extraordinary number of facets. As Sir Arthur C Clarke remarked: "The Island of Sri Lanka is a small universe; it contains as many variations of culture, scenery, and climate as some countries a dozen times its size . . . I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments - which has so many advantages and so few disadvantages." Lovely beaches, beautiful landscapes, impressive ruins, a vibrant culture and charming people. – no wonder Sri Lanka is a small miracle.

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