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Bellanwila-Attidiya: bird paradise gone bad - Daily News


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Author Topic: Bellanwila-Attidiya: bird paradise gone bad - Daily News  (Read 1835 times)
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« on: September 10, 2013, 06:15:54 am »

The bellanwila-Attidiya marsh is situated on the south-eastern outskirts of Colombo. The area comprises of shallow freshwater ponds, canals, marshes, scrublands and seasonally flooded grassland, with scattered pockets of shrubs and small trees.

The Bolagoda canal runs through the marsh dividing the area approximately into two equal parts. The area was reportedly used for rice cultivation until 1978. Yet, predominantly due to increasing severity of drainage problems paddy cultivation was abandoned. Now, most lands have been re-colonized by a diverse vegetation that provides habitat for a great variety of wildlife, in particular for insects, fishers, reptiles and birds

The area is particularly rich in waterfowl, including many migratory species. Being in the proximity of the capital city, the marsh is also of great importance for the leisure and nature experience of city dweller, and provides ample opportunity for conservation education, nature study and research activities.

Bellanvila-attidiya sanctuary (BAS) is listed in the directory of Asian Wetland by the IUCN in 1989 and designated as important bird area by Birdlife International. It was declared a Sanctuary under the fauna and flora protection ordinance by gazette extraordinary No 620/9 of 25th July 1990.

Natural habitat
It is one of the last remaining natural habitats for many species of invertebrates and vertebrates displaced by urban and suburban development. It provides valuable resources to migrating birds for them to complete their annual migratory cycle.

The marsh supports a wide variety of water birds in small numbers, and is an important rooting site for herons and egrets. Over 168 species of birds have been recorded from the marsh. Of the diverse array of invertebrates found in the marsh, 77 species of butterflies and 37 species of dragonflies have been recorded.

A thorough study and survey of the invertebrate diversity needs to be initiated, the waters of the marsh is also home to over 44 species of fresh water fish, of which four are endemic to Sri Lanka. Nearly 30 species of amphibians (frogs and Toads) have been observed in the marsh of which 4 are endemic. There are also a considerable number of reptiles and mammals in the marsh. Otters, hard shell sand soft shell terrapins, many species of snakes and lizards, and even the rare and endemic golden palm civet have been spotted in the marsh.

A considerable land area of Bellanvila-Attidiya wetland has been lost. The most obvious and damaging threat to the marsh is the continuing dumping of raw garbage into it. Another serious threat is the effluents and pollutants released from the nearby garments factories into its waterways.

These factory effluents discharge to the local drain flow into the bolaoda canal, and have resulted in major fish kills. These fish kills have decimated the local population of several species of fish, including two species endemic to Sri Lanka.

The economically important freshwater shrimp macro brachium Rosenberger, have almost been exterminated in the marsh. The dumping of domestic waste along the adjacent road has also caused serious pollution problems.

Most of the larger trees have been cut down for firewood resulting in reduced nesting places for the birds and other animals.

There is also a considerable amount of Hunting of large water birds going on, particularly with snares, nets and catapults. Egg-Collecting is also a threat to the bird population in mash. Some of the development projects in surrounding areas also illegally encroach into the marsh from it periphery.

If the Bellanvila- Attidiya marshes are to survive to the new millennium, the garbage problem needs to be resolved immediately. Otherwise the long term repercussions to the ecology of the marsh will be most severe.

Also Habitat fragmentation, and changes in water level that degraded native vegetation habitat and provided access for invasive native and non-native weeds and accelerated the succession decline of Bellanvila-Attidiya Sanctuary habitat, Plant and animal pest invasion, loss of natural character and changers in plant dominance have profound effects on the animals that depend upon aquatic environments as a source of food and refuge and as a nursery for their young, land filling and drainage of wetland for urban or rural development are considerable threats for Bellanvila-Attidiya mash Sanctuary.

When we look at the important of Bellanvila-Attidiya Sanctuary, we can conclude that Bellanvila-Attidiya Sanctuary has particularly productive ecosystems that can provide many benefits such as energy production, research and education, recreation and tourism, water flow regulation, protection against natural processes and calamities, contribution to maintenance of processes in natural systems, biodiversity uniqueness and gene pool, socio-cultural significance and landscape beauty. It is our duty to protect our mother nature for future generation enabling them to live in a sustainable society.

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