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Author Topic: Mangrove boat ride  (Read 498 times)
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« on: April 02, 2010, 10:31:14 am »

The calm waters of the Bentota river can be soothing to the soul when you do a relaxing boat journey across the small and big river. Meandering through the mangrove foliage and islet in the middle of the wide Bentota river, you can bear witness to stunning flora and fauna.

Taking the boat with the help of the kind Beach Operators at the Riverina hotel, we were greeted by our boat guide and boatsman Anju who made us feel comfortable onboard. It is said that there are about 60 mangrove species in the world of which about 30 are found in Sri Lanka. At the Bentota river, you can find at least 10 species most that are endemic and found only in Sri Lanka. We saw some nature-friendly sights like a baby crocodile sunbathing and a water monitor lazing on a large mangrove branch. Comarant birds were flapping their feathers on the stumps of the mangroves drying in the Spring sun.

Above, we saw green parakeets flocking around a mango tree in search of some tasty fruit even though majority were unripe. Yonder, we discovered many birds like a blue kingfisher and plenty of blue-tailed and green-tailed bee eaters feeding on insects scooped from the bark of the mangroves.

The different variety of mangroves are amazing because they give the Bentota river a brackish colour. “This nourishes the eco-system and sustains the plant and animal life making mangroves a vital part of the food chain” said Anju who took us along the twists and turns of the mangrove branches.

According to the IUCN (International Union of Nature Conservation), almost 40% of the world’s mangroves are concentrated in Asia; the region also has accounted for the highest loss of mangrove area over the last decade.

The mangrove systems covering an area of 6000-7000 hectares are interspersed along the coastline of Sri Lanka. However, as much as we love the boat rides, the mangrove forests in Bentota are highly threatened as a result of unchecked growth of the tourism sector.

The mangrove forests are second only to Sri Lanka’s largest mangrove system is located in Puttalam Lagoon - Dutch Bay - Portugal Bay complex covering an area of 3385 hectares.

Today, the mangrove ecosystem is facing serious threats from development pressure, and there is a national need to conserve these sensitive ecosystems. National effort is required to increase the public awareness to conserve the mangrove habitat, and its unique biodiversity. So save our mangroves and cherish mother nature’s bountiful eco-systems

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