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53 out of 97 Lankan fauna threatened with extinction

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By Ifham Nizam

Fifty-three out of the 97 assessed fauna species are threatened. Further, 74% of the freshwater fish endemic to Sri Lanka are also threatened, the National Red Lists of Freshwater Fish and Flora reveals.

 National Red List, Biodiversity Secretariat Consultant/Team Leader Fauna Prof. Device Weerakoon told The Island yesterday of the 61 endemic species assessed, 12 species were listed as Critically Endangered (CR); 24 as Endangered (EN) and nine species as Vulnerable (VU).

Five more species have been listed as Near Threatened (NT); two species as Data Deficient (DD); and the remaining species as Least Concern (LC). Out of the 61 endemic species accessed, the status of 59 has been updated in the global Red List.

 The status of two species whose taxonomic status is yet to be resolved and will be updated in the global list once the validity of the species is confirmed. Among the 36 native species assessed, eight species were listed as threatened. Therefore, compared to native species, the endemic species are facing a significantly high risk of extinction.

 Dr. Weerakoon says urgent planned conservation action is needed at least for endemic species threatened with extinction r to prevent their imminent disappearance from the face of the earth.

 “A list of immediate actions that should be taken to address this issue has been outlined in the book including the need to conduct planned systematic surveys, development and implementation of recovery plans at least for the 12 critically endangered species, updating the Red List at least on an annual basis, conducting further research on threatened species to inform recovery planning process and create awareness among citizens to reduce the drivers that are operating on freshwater fish of Sri Lanka.”

  The surface water resources of Sri Lanka extend over four per cent of the land extent and comprise both natural and manmade systems. The natural freshwater sources include rivers, villus and marshes while the manmade systems include ponds, irrigation canals and large number of small, medium, and large tanks.

 A further nine per cent of Sri Lanka’s land extent comprises rice paddy that retained water over much of its growth cycle. “This wide array of freshwater ecosystems provides habitats to a large number of freshwater dwelling species including fish. Sri Lanka has a rich freshwater fish fauna that comprise of 47 native species, 61 endemic species and around 30 introduced species,” Dr. Weerakoon said.

 He said most of the endemic and threatened freshwater fish species occupied habitats outside the protected area network and therefore subjected to many anthropogenic influences that have resulted in sharp decline in freshwater fish population as well as local extinctions. Therefore, there was an urgent need to take steps to conserve the freshwater fish of Sri Lanka, especially the species that faced a high risk of extinction.

Dr. Weerakoon said the Red List was one of the best indicators of the health of a species as it was an assessment that took into consideration most of the internal and external factors that influenced the long-term survival of the species assessed.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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