Nature conservation in Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

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  • Nature Conservation in Sri Lanka (Ceylon)*

    HILARY CRUSZ, Ph .D . (London)

    Professor and Head, Department of Zoology, University of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (Ceylon)


    Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was once part of an Indo-Malayan and Afro-Madgascan complex, and has three peneplains. These circumstances are reflected in her fauna and flora, of which 28"5 per cent of the vascular plants and 16 per cent of the land vertebrates are endemic, inhabiting mostly the central montane and southwestern regions. Such figures could provide indices or coefficients of insularity of islands of the nature of Sri Lanka and Madagascar. The parasites of the endemics and relicts could also point to the relation- ships of the hosts and the antiquity of the geographical regions. Nearly all the wildlife reserves are in the dry northern and eastern halves of the island, in areas of monsoon scrub-jungle, monsoon forest, or grassland. Further strict natural reserves are urgently needed in the montane and southwestern rain-forest and grassland areas. Significant conservation measures have been taken since 1885 by the Government and by what in 1971 was renamed the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Ceylon. Constitutional changes have also had their impact, while human population increase has affected land utilization and the extents of nature reserves. Twenty-seven mammal, 340 bird, 7 reptile, and 9 plant, species are absolutelyprotected. Despite such efforts, conservation science and practice, based on ecological studies, have lagged behind, but some progress is being made through the work of foreign and local scientists, and the new interest taken by Government and the universities. That Sri Lanka is well suited to effective nature conservation is shown also by the ethos of her people, as shaped by Buddhist teachings and by the concern of kings during her long history.


    Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a pear-shaped island lying in the Indian Ocean between longitudes E 7939 ' and 815Y, and latitudes N 554 ' and 9052 '. It is 434 km (270 miles) long and 225 km (140 miles) at its widest, and has an area of 65,584 km 2 (25,332 sq miles), of which 64,742 km 2 (24,997 sq miles) are land and the rest is inland water.

    * A revised and updated version of a paper presented at the First International Conference on the Rational Use and Conservation of Nature, Tananarive, Madagascar, 7-11 October 1970.

    That the island was once part of India is evidenced by its continental shelf and rock-formations. Geo- logically it is essentially an Archaean complex, a synclinorium of fundamental gneisses, outcropping widely at the surface in the eastern sector and more narrowly in the west. Above these lie the highly metamorphosed khondalite group of rocks, which include crystalline limestones and quartzites, and also the charnockites of the central hills. In them are found graphite and gems, which are the chief mineral deposits of Sri Lanka. Granites and other rocks have intruded into the fundamental gneisses and khondalites in some parts of the island.

    There are no rocks of more recent age, apart from two small plant-fossiliferous Jurassic beds near the southernmost region of the northwestern sector, and Miocene limestones along the extreme north-west, with a patch, probably of similar age, in the extreme south-east. Plio-Pleistocene gravels occur as isolated patches in the north-west and south-east. Quaternary deposits line the island for some distance along the east and west coasts.

    Sri Lanka became an island probably in late Miocene times, the southwestern sector having been the first to separate from India, with alternate shallow floodings and elevations at various times thereafter. There are also indications that parts of the island have, through subsidence, elevation, erosion, and even faulting, produced three peneplains, or erosion levels, at 0 to 122 m (400 ft), 305 to 762 m (1,000 to 2,500ft), and 914m (3,000ft) to over 2,438m (8,000 ft), respectively, above mean sea-level. All this, together with its climatic and vegetational conse- quences, would account for the fact that the greatest endemicity of fauna and flora is shown in the central montane and southwestern region of the island.


    Analyses of the distribution of Sri Lanka's fauna and flora have been made for many years on the


    Biological Consercation, Vol. 5, No. 3, July 1973-- 0 Applied Science Publishers Ltd, England, 1973--Printed in Great Britain

  • 200 Biological Conservation

    basis of climatic factors alone. Phillips (1942), for instance, based his study of the mammals of Sri Lanka on three climatic zones, namely the Low Country Dry Zone, the southwesterly Low Country Wet Zone, and the central Hill Zone. More recently, however, Eisenberg & McKay (1970), following Gaussen et al. (1964), Mueller-Dombois & Sirisena (1967), and Fernando (1968), have recognized seven vegetational zones (see Fig. 1 and below) for basing their analysis of mammalian distribution in Sri Lanka. They argue that climate and, to some extent, soil, interact to determine vegetation form, which in turn influences mammalian distribution in a given area. This sound principle would apply to the life- forms as well, both plant and animal. The seven vegetational zones are, with symbols referring to the caption to the map:

    A1- Monsoon Scrub Jungle--extreme north and north-west

    A2- Monsoon Scrub Jungle--extreme south- east

    B - - Monsoon Forest and Grassland

    C - - Intermonsoon Forest

    D 1 - - Rain-forest and Grassland--below 914 m (3,000 ft)

    D 2 - - Rain-forest and Grassland--914 to 1,524 m

    D 3 - - Rain-forest and Grassland--above 1,524 m B (5,000 ft). C


    Sri Lanka's total forest area in 1956 was 7,165 million D2

    acres (2,900,810ha), comprising 44 per cent of the D3 land area (Andrews, 1961). This area has been de- creasing progressively since. According to Wijesinghe National (1972), the respective figures for 1966 and 1970 are 1. 6.5 million acres (2-63 million ha) and 6-1 million acres (2.47 million ha), respectively.


    The greater number of named forms of Sri Lanka's plants and animals are derived from peninsular India, but there are several endemic genera and numerous endemic species in Sri Lanka, not a few of which latter appear to be true relicts.

    As regards the fauna, there are about 628 known species of terrestrial vertebrates (84 mammal, 379 bird, 133 reptile, and 32 amphibian, species). Sixteen per cent of these are endemic species.

    The animals of the dry zones (A x, A2, B, and C) show the closest affinity with the fauna of the Indian mainland, while those of the wet hill zones (D1, DE, and Da) are more distinctive, although some of them

    Scoh~- I: Z,O00,O00


    Fig. 1. Sketch-map of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) showing vegetational zones, national wildlife reserves, major

    sanctuaries, and other areas.

    Vegetational Zones A1 & Az Monsoon Scrub Jungle (extreme N, NW and SE)

    Monsoon Forest and Grassland Intermonsoon Forest Rain-forest and Grassland--below 914 m

    (3,000 ft) Rain-forest and Grassland--914 to 1,524 m Rain-forest and Grassland--above 1,524 m

    (5,000 ft)

    Wildlife Reserves (blackened areas) Wilpattu National Park--1,095km2 (423 sq

    miles) 2. Ritigala Strict Natural Reserve 3. Gal-Oya National Park--259 km 2 (100 sq miles) 4. Peak Wilderness 5. Horton Plains 6. Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve 7. Yala National Park and Strict Natural Reserve

    --1,090 km2 (421 sq miles) 8. Uda Walawe National Park--308 km2 (119 sq

    miles). This Park, especially its northern half, extends even further westwards into the inter- monsoon forest region (zone C).

    Major Sanctuaries (stippled areas) 9. Giant's Tank

    10. Wilpattu North Sanctuary 11. Wilpattu West Sanctuary 12. Somawathi-Tamankaduwa 13. Gal-Oya Other areas 14. Sinharaja Forest--233 km2 (90 sq miles) (hatched

    area) 15. Elephant corridors (broken lines)

  • Crusz : Conservation

    show affinity with the fauna of the Malabar tract of India (Phillips, 1942). Faunal affinity with Malaysia and Indonesia is indicated by the presence in Sri Lanka of the Mountain Lizard (Cophotis sp.), the Water Lizard (Varanus monitor), and several other species; and, with Africa and Madagascar, by the presence of limbless skinks of the subfamily Acontiani- nae and of a member of the Chamaeleontidae which is also represented in southern India.

    Most of the endemic animal species inhabit the rain-forest (zones D1, D2, and D3). About 25 per cent of them are confined to the upper montane zone (D3) and represent Sri Lanka's most conservative faunal elements which have been least influenced by recent invasion from southern India. A short-list of the more notable endemic tetrapod vertebrates of the montane zone would include the following:

    Mammals: Feroculus feroculus, Solisorex pearsoni, Crocidura miya, Rattus montanus, R. ohiensis. (Feroculus and Solisorex are endemic genera.)

    Birds: Kelaartia penicillata, Muscicapa sordida, Zosterops ceylonensis, Columba torringtoni. (Kelaartia is probably an endemic genus.)

    Reptiles: Lyriocephalus scutatus, Ceratophora stod- darti, C. tennenti, C. aspera, Cophotis ceylanica, Calotes liocephalus, C. nigrilabris, Aspidura trachyprocta. (Lyriocephalus and Ceratophora are endemic genera.)

    Amphibians: Bufo kelaarti, Nannophrys ceylonensis marmorata, Rhacophorus microtympanum, Philau- tus schmardanus, Ramanella palmata, Microhyla zeylanica. (Nannophrys is an endemic genus.)

    As for Sri Lanka's flora, which numbers over 3,100 species of vascular plants (belonging to 1,065 genera and 171 families), about 28.5 per cent of them are endemic, 65 per cent are of Indian and Himalayan affinity, while the balance of 6-5 per cent have come from the Malaysian, African, and Australian, regions (Abeywickrama, 1956, 1959). Some of the endemics, among the inland terrestrial plants, are probably true relicts. One-half of the endemic plants are confined to the wet zones. Of these, more are found at the lower elevations than on the hills. This distribution seems to be somewhat different from that of Sri Lanka's highly endemic hill fauna.

    It is interesting here to reflect on some of the figures available for endemism of plants and animals in Madagascar, where 86 per cent of the plant species are endemic (Nicholson, 1970, after Bathie, 1936). Among animals, 95 per cent of the reptile species and subspecies (Blanc, 1970), and 65 per cent of the bird species, are endemic (Nicholson, 1970), and there are several endemic genera and species, and even families,

    in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) 201

    among the 70 Malagasy mammals, a good many others of which are introduced species (Nicholson, 1970). These figures, compared with those for Sri Lanka (28.5 per cent of the vascular plants and 16 per cent of the terrestrial vertebrates), would seem to reflect the age and degree of isolation undergone by these islands and their faunas. They could provide an 'index or coefficient of insularity'.

    An interesting complementary field of study that could help to throw light on animal relationshil:s, and even on the antiquity of several species on islands such as Sri Lanka and Madagascar and their neigh- bouring continents, is comparative parasitology-- particularly of relict faunas. These studies are pro- ceeding, and the data obtained are being evaluated (Chabaud & Brygoo, 1964; Crusz & Mills, 1970; Crusz & Sanmugasunderam, 1971).

    The importance of distributional studies, and, more significantly, of sound ecological investigations, can- not be overemphasized. It is on the basis of such studies that warnings could be given that if there were to be adequate conservation of the island's fast- diminishing abundance of fauna and flora, and if the more interesting and important species were to be saved from extinction, national reserves would have to be provided, and even other means such as the setting up of arboreta, wildlife cropping, and so on, would have to be adopted, in each of the main zones involved. The dry region, particularly zones A1, A2, and B, already has such reserves, but hardly any really scientifically-based wildlife management. These meas- ures are even more urgently needed in the upper montane zone (D3) and in the southwesterly wet zones (D1 and D2). The Peak Wilderness-Horton Plains- Hakgala complex, and the more southerly Sinharaja Forest, see Fig. 1--perhaps Sri Lanka's only true primary tropical rain-forest, which is almost a relict biome--have yet to receive the care and concern they deserve. There were hopeful signs that the report of the Land Utilization Committee (Government Ses- sional Paper XI of 1968) would result in some early action in this direction, but the recent introduction of potato cultivation on the Horton Plains, and of timber extraction in the Sinharaja Forest, has con- siderably shaken these hopes.


    Although Sri Lanka's pioneer zoologist, E. F. Kelaart, had published his Prodromus Faunae Zey- lanicae in 1852, seven years before Darwin's Origin of Species, and J. Emerson Tennent wrote on Sri Lanka's natural history in 1859 and 1868, it was not until 1885

  • 202 TABLE I

    Summary of Main Conservation Steps Taken in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon)

    Government sessional papers, ordinances, acts, and proclamations

    Title and/or objects Other significant events for Outlook nature conservation

    Ordinance No. 10 of 1885 The Forest Ordinance Government Department of Forestry established in 1887, which administered wildlife affairs up to 1950

    From 1885 to 1929, the main outlook of both Government and the Game Protection Society was 'conservation for sport'

    Ordinance No. 10 of 1891 To prevent the wanton destruction of elephants, buffaloes, and other game

    Ordinance No. 11 of 1891 To readjust the customs duties leviable on firearms and to impose an export duty on certain hides and horns

    Act No. 6 of 1893 To prevent the wanton destruction of non- indigenous birds, beasts, and fishes

    Proclamation in 1894 Prohibiting export of hides of sambpur and deer for a period of 5 years (later amended to read 'for an indefinite period')

    Game Protection Society (GPS) inaugurated in 1894

    Proclamation in 1900 (March 20)

    Under the Forest Ordinance, Yala (150 sq miles = 389 sq km) proclaimed a game sanctuary. (The word sanctuary then had the same meaning as a strict natural reserve)

    Act No. 11 of 1902 The Game Protection Act

    Act No. 14 of 1905 The Fishes (Dynamite) Act

    Proclamation in 1905 (September 15)

    Under the Forest Ordinance, Wilpattu (217 sq miles = 562 sq km) proclaimed a game sanctuary in the same sense as Yala was proclaimed in 1900

    Act No. 10 of 1906 The Wild Bird Protection Act

    Ordinance No. 16 of 1907 To consolidate and amend the law relating to forests and the felling and transport of timber

    Ordinance No. 19 of 1908 The Dried Meat Ordinance (Sections 1 and 4 prohibit the transport of more than 15 lb (6.8 kg) of dried meat from prohibited areas). Originated and drafted by the GPS

  • Crusz: Conservation in Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

    TABLE I--contd.


    Government sessional papers, ordinances, acts, and proclamations

    Title and/or objects Other significant events for nature conservation Outlook

    Ordinance No. 31 of 1908 Amendment to the Firearms Ordinance. Originated and drafted by the GPS

    Ordinance No. 1 of 1909 For the protection of game, wild beasts, birds, and fish. (Consolidation of all existing laws relating to wildlife protection.) Originated and drafted by the GPS

    Sessional Paper XXXII I of 1930

    Report of the Select Committee on the Game Protection Ordinance (Chairman Mr W. E. Wait), to consider and report on the working of the restrictions imposed by or under the Game Protection Ordinance, and to make any recommendations they may consider expedient for the alteration of such restrictions

    Ceylon's new Constitution - - the Donoughmore Constitution---came into operation in 1930. Nature Conservation came under the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. In the same year the GPS was renamed the Game and Fauna Protection Society (GFPS), which urged that protection be given to all indigenous orchids

    From 1930, a new outlook inspired Government enactments and the Society's activities: nature conservation, animal photography, and scientific studies, gained more emphasis than sport

    Sessional Paper XIX of 1934

    Report of the Fauna and Flora Protection Committee, appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Lands, 'to inquire into and report on the measures necessary to be taken for the further protection of the indigenous fauna and flora of Ceylon'

    The Zoological Gardens at Dehiwala taken over by Government in 1935 on representations made by the GFPS. The Society also drew attention to the serious nature of the dynamiting of fish

    Ordinance No. 2 of 1937 The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance

    The Fauna and Flora Protection Advisory Committee appointed for the first time in 1938, under Section 70 of the Ordinance

    Ordinance No. 24 of 1940 The Fisheries Ordinance, to amend and consolidate the law relating to fisheries and to the taking and protection of fish in Ceylon waters, etc. (Amendments in 1950, 1952, and 1956)

    Ordinance No. 31 of 1942 Amendment to Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance

    Ordinance No. 12 of 1944 Amendment to Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance


  • TABLE I--contd.

    Government sessional papers, ordinances, acts, and proclamations

    Title and/or objects Other significant events for nature conservation Outlook

    Act No. 38 of 1949 Amendment to Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance

    Independence Day, 4 February 1948. The Government Department of Wild Life was created in 1950, for which the GFPS had agitated since 1928

    Act No. 25 of 1951 The Soil Conservation Act. (This has become almost a dead letter, as there has apparently not been a single prosecution yet under this Act--see Hoffmann, 1968)

    Sessional Paper No. XIX of 1959

    Report of the Committee on Preservation of Wild Life. (One of its recommendations is to establish a National Trust or Corporation for the administration of wildlife in Ceylon. The President of the WLPSC has suggested that this Trust administer not only wildlife but all Nature Conservation)

    In 1957 the GFPS became the Wild Life Protection Society of Ceylon (WLPSC)

    Act No. 44 of 1964 Amendment to Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance

    Act No. 29 of 1968 Incorporation of the WLPSC

    Sessional Paper No. XI of Report of the Land 1968 Utilization Committee

    Act No. 1 of 1970 Amendment to Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Among other things, the Wild Life Department is renamed the Department of Wild Life Conservation. Henceforth, the approval of both Houses of Parliament and publication in the Government Gazette are necessary for validating any ministerial order altering or varying the limits of any National Reserve or Sanctuary

    The Wild Life Conservation Department is brought under the Ministry of Shipping and Tourism. A suggestion made in 1969 by the President of the WLPSC to change the Society's name to 'The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Ceylon' (WNPSC) was carried out in December 1971

    Regulations made by the Minister of Shipping and Tourism, under Sections 34 and 71 of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (Chapter 469) as amended by Act No. 44 of 1964, and approved by the National State Assembly, 1972

    Amendments to protect absolutely 22 more species of reptiles, birds, and mammals

    Sri Lanka proclaimed a Republic on 22 May, 1972, under a new Constitution

  • Crusz : Conservation in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) 205

    that the first step was taken towards any type of nature conservation in Sri Lanka. That was the enactment of the Forest Ordinance. From then on, fauna and flora conservation on the island advanced apace, depending on factors such as increasing popula- tion, land utilization for agriculture, urbanization and industry, constitutional changes, and, most of all, the basic philosophies that inspired Government and the conservationists (see Table I). Today, nature con- servation in Sri Lanka is a concern of the Minister of Shipping & Tourism, and is looked after mainly by the action taken on the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of 1937 (and its subsequent Amending Acts) by such Government bodies as the Wildlife Department, the Forest Department, and the Police Department.

    One thing, however, can be stated categorically: there has been no sound, scientifically tested, ecological basis for most of the steps taken in nature conserva- tion in this country. For well over half-a-century the main force behind conservation has been sportsmen, executives in both the public and private sectors, and amateur naturalists. Sri Lanka's general public, as such, have hardly been conservation-minded--apart from a basic religious aversion to the taking of life in any form--and her scientists, with the exception per- haps of a handful of forest and soil scientists, have hardly yet touched even the fringe of the problem. Despite all this, Sri Lanka has been fortunate in having developed, particularly since 1920 with the advent of her new Donoughmore Constitution, and more vitally since attaining Independence in 1948, an increasing conservation-consciousness. This is bound

    to have good results in the future, if nurtured with vision and seriousness of purpose.

    The one single local factor that has operated all along in tavour of nature conservation in Sri Lanka has been, without doubt, the Wildlife Protection Society of Ceylon (cfi Hoffmann, 1969). This Society, which started in 1894 as the Game Protection Society, then believed for the most part in conservation for hunting, but already in 1930 it began to show signs of a change of purpose. There emerged such concepts as nature conservation (rather than game protection), shooting with cameras (rather than with guns), and the educational and scientific aspects of conservation. Today, the WLPSC continues as the Wild Life and Nature Protection Society of Ceylon (WNPSC), which clearly indicates a shift of emphasis to nature conservation as a whole.

    It stands to the credit of the WNPSC that it has initiated and been in the forefront of nearly every campaign for enacting, and for the more difficult task of enforcing, laws for the preservation of the fauna and flora of Sri Lanka. More than this, however, it has mobilized local public opinion and roused our educational institutions to the need for conservation education and research, and has even created and fostered international interest in our fauna and flora. An almost explosive interest in this direction has been shown in recent times by such bodies as the Smithsonian Institution (Elephant Project, Primate Project, Flora Project, Carangid Fish Project, and Insect Survey) and the World Wildlife Fund (Dugong Survey).

    All this can be harnessed to Sri Lanka's benefit,


    Human Population, Paddy Land, and National Wildlife Reserves, of Sri Lanka

    * Human population of Sri Lanka (in millions)

    *Estimated extent of asweddumized paddy land (i.e. land developed for

    paddy cultivation, in which fields are separated by bunds)

    t Statutory extent of national wildlife reserves (Strict Natural Reserves, Nature Reserves, National Parks,

    Intermediate Zones and Jungle Corridors)

    1900 3'6 1921 4"5 1931 5"3 1946 6.7 1955 8.6 1963 10.6 1968 12-0 1971 12.7 1972 13.0 1973 < 14.0 1983

  • 206

    List of Animals

    Biological Conservation


    Absolutely Protected During Both the Close and the Open Seasons

    Class Order Scientific name English name

    Mammalia Insectivora 1. Feroculusferoculus (Kelaart) 2. Suncus etruscus fellowes-gordoni Phillips 3. Suncus murinus zeylanicus Phillips 4. Crocidura miya Phillips 5. Crocidura horsfieldi (Tomes) 6. Solisorex pearsoni Thomas 7. Rousettus seminudus (Gray) 8. Murina cyclotis eileenae Phillips 9. Kerivoula hardewickei malpasi Phillips

    10. Loris tardigradus (Linnaeus) 11. Presbytis senex monticola Kelaart 12. Manis crassicaudata Gray 13. Petaurista petaurista lanka Wroughton 14. Petinomys fuscocapillus layardi (Kelaart) 15. Ratufa macroura macroura (Pennant) 16. Tatera indica ceylonica Wroughton 17. Bandicota bengalensis gracilis (Nehring)

    (= Gunomys gracilis Phillips) 18. Musfernandoni (Phillips)

    (= Leggadilla fernandoni Hill) 19. Mus mayori mayori (Thomas)

    (= Coelomys mayori Hill) 20. Mus mayori pococki Ellerman

    (= Coelomys bicolor Hill) 21. Rattus montanus Phillips 22. Paradoxurus zeylonensis (Pallas in Schreber) 23. Felis rubiginosa (Is. Geoffrey) 24. Felis viverrina Bennet 25. Dugong dugon (M filler) 26. Axis porcinus porcinus (Zimmermann) 27. Equus caballus Linn.





    Pholidota Rodentia


    Sirenia Artiodactyla Perissodactyla

    Long-clawed Shrew Ceylon Pigmy Shrew Ceylon Jungle Shrew Long-tailed Shrew Horsfield's Shrew Pearson's Shrew Ceylon Fruit-bat Ceylon Tube-nosed Bat Malpas's Bat Slender Loris Bear Monkey or Hill Wanderoo Indian Pangolin Grey Flying-squirrel Small Ceylon Flying-squirrel Highland Giant Squirrel Ceylon Gerbil or Antelope Rat Lesser Bandicoot Rat or Mole Rat

    Ceylon Spiny Mouse

    Highland Spiny Rat

    Bicoloured Spiny Rat

    Nillu Rat Golden Palm Civet Rusty-spotted Cat Fishing Cat Dugong Hog Deer Delft Island Pony

    There are about 379 species of birds in Sri Lanka. Of these, 340 species are absolutely protected during both the Close and Open Seasons, 25 are protected during the Close Season only, while the remaining 14 are not protected at all.

    Testudinata 28. Dermochelys coriacea (Linn.) 29. Lepidochelys olivacea olivacea (Eschscholtz) 30. Caretta caretta gigas Deraniyagala 31. Eretmochelys imbricata (Linn.) 32. Chelonia mydas (Linn.) 33. Testudo (Geochelone) elegans (Schoepff)

    Squamata 34. Varanus monitor (Linn.)

    Leathery Turtle Olive-back Loggerhead Giant Brown-red Loggerhead Hawksbill Turtle Green Turtle Starred Tortoise Water Lizard or Water Monitor


    L&t of Plants Protected Absolutely by Law & Sri Lanka

    Family Scientific name English name

    Orchidaceae Dendrobium heterocarpum Wall. ex Lindl. Dendrobium maccarthiae Thw. Ipsea speciosa Lindl. Rhynchostylis retusa (Linn.) B1. Vanda spathulata (Linn.) Spreng. Vanda tessellata (Roxb.) Lod. ex. G.Don Cleistanthus collinus (Roxb.) Hook.f. Adansonia digitata Linn. Sphagnum zeylanicum Mitt.

    Euphorbiaceae Bombacaceae Sphagnaceae (Bryopsida)

    Primrose Orchid Wesak or May Orchid Daffodil Orchid Foxtail Orchid

    Anuradhapura Orchid Madara Tree Baobab Tree Sphagnum Moss

  • Crusz : Conservation

    particularly for training, for wildlife management, local personnel in government departments and uni- versities, and for investigating the many connected problems on a thoroughly scientific basis (cf. Eisen- berg et al., 1970; Gray & Nettashinghe, 1970; Jayasinghe & Jainudeen, 1970; Rudran, 1970; Amerasinghe et al., 1971; Eisenberg et al., 1971; Jainudeen et al., 1971; Mueller-Dombois & Perera, 1971; Eisenberg & Lockhart, 1972; Eisenberg et al., in press).

    Above I summarized in Table I most of the signifi- cant steps taken in relation to nature conservation in Sri Lanka. This Table lists the various Government reports and enactments and their main objectives, the establishment by Government of its Forest Depart- ment, its Wild Life Conservation Department, its Zoological Gardens, and its Fauna and Flora Pro- tection Advisory Committee, and the origin and development of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Ceylon. A glance at Table I would even show the impact of constitutional changes on nature conservation in Sri Lanka. Table II sets out changes in land utilization and the statutory extents of National Reserves against a background of population increase. Tables IlI and IV list the animals and plants, respectively, that are absolutely protected by law.

    Sri Lanka is ideally and ideologically suited to nature conservation in a big and meaningful way, if only a reasonable amount of scientific manpower itself could be created, harnessed, and conserved for this purpose, and if conservation education could be stepped up very considerably. It was not mere patron- age that made one of Sri Lanka's forestry scientists quote the words of the Buddha (of over 2,500 years ago) in a presidential address to the Ceylon Association for the Advancement of Science (Koelmeyer, 1961): 'The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axeman who destroys it'. We would do well to be continually reminded of this, and also of the several edicts proclaimed in the 12th century AD by King Kirti-Nissanka-Malla of Sri Lanka (cf. Wickrema- singhe, 1928). In one of these, 'ordering by beat of drum that no animals should be killed within a radius of seven gay [1 gava = 5-1 km] from the city of Anuradhapura, he gave security to animals. He gave security to the fish in the twelve great tanks. He gave security to birds'.

    These and other similar instances, borne out by inscribed evidence, of the concern of kings for the conservation of bird and beast, must surely be the earliest recorded nature conservation edicts or laws in Sri Lanka's long history.

    in Sri Lanka (Ceylon)



    ABEYWICKRAMA, B. A. (1956). The origin and affinities of the flora of Ceylon. Proc. l lth Ann. Sess. Ceylon A.A.S., Part 2, pp. 99-121, 9 figs.

    ABEYWICKRAMA, B. A. (1959). The evolution of the flora of Ceylon. Proc. 14th Ann. Sess. Ceylon A.A.S., Part 2, pp. 217-9.

    AMERASINGHE, F. P., VANCUYLENBERG, B. W. B. HLADIK, C. M. (1971). Comparative histology of the alimen- tary tracts of Ceylon Primates in correlation with the diet. Ceylon J. Sci. Biol. Sci., 9, pp. 75-87, 1 fig. and 3 plates.

    ANDREWS, J. R. T. (1961). A Forest Inventory of Ceylon. A Canada-Ceylon Colombo Plan project. Government Press, Colombo: 116 pp. 2 maps.

    BATHIE, H. Perrier de la (1936). Biogdographie des plantes de Madagascar, Soc. 6dit. G6o. mar. et Col. 6dit., Paris, 156 pp., iilustr.

    BLANC, C. P. (1970). Intt des Reptiles enddmiques Malgaches. [Paper read at the] Conf6rence Inter- nationale sur l'Utilisation Rationnelle et la Conserva- tion de la Nature, Tananarive, October 1970, 8 pp. (mimeographed).

    CHABAUD, A. G. & BRYGOO, E. R. (1964). L'end6misme chez les helminthes de Madagascar. C. R. Soc. Biogeogr., 356, pp. 3-13, 1 fig.

    CRUSZ, H. & MILLS, E. V. (1970). Parasites of the relict fauna of Ceylon I. Acanthocephalas serendibensis sp. nov. from the Ceylon Horn-nosed Lizard, Cerato- phora stoddarti Gray. Ann. Paras#. Hum. Comp., 45, pp. 13-19, 5 figs.

    CRUSZ, H. & SANMUGASUNDERAM, V. (1971). Parasites of the relict fauna of Ceylon II. New species of cyclophyllidean cetsodes from small hill-vertebrates. Ann. Parasit. Hum. Comp., 46, pp. 575-88, 5 figs.

    EISENBERG, J. F. & LOCKHART, M. (1972). An ecological reconnaissance of Wilpattu National Park, Ceylon. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, No. 101, v q- 118 pp., illustr.

    EISENBERG, J. F. & McKAY, G. M. (1970). An annotated checklist of the recent mammals of Ceylon with keys to the species. Ceylon J. Sci. Biol. Sci., 8, pp. 69-99.

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    UN General Assembly Adopts Resolutions on Human Environment

    Recently the United Nations General Assembly adopted eleven resolutions on the Human Environ- ment, contained in the Second Committee Report (Doc.A/8901). Maurice Strong, of Canada, nominated by Secretary-General Waldheim as Executive Director of the Environment Secretariat, was elected by acclamation for a four-year term. The resolution locating the Secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya, was adopted unanimously.

    A fifty-eight-Member Governing Council for en- vironmental programmes was elected with the following distribution:

    Twenty members to serve for three years: Australia, Burundi, Chile, Iraq, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, The Nether- lands, Poland, Central African Republic, German

    Democratic Republic, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Turkey.

    Nineteen members to serve for two years: Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, United States, India, Iran, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malawi, Peru, Romania, Somalia, Tunisia, USSR, Venezuela.

    Nineteen members to serve for one year: Argentina, Canada, China, Spain, France, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Lebanon, Morocco, Philippines, Syrian Arab Republic, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia.

    UNITED NATIONS OFFICE AT GENEVA, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 11, Switzerland


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