Afghanistan without America at last, Sri Lanka under Emergency Rule again
by Rajan Philips
On September 1, the people of Afghanistan woke up for the first time in 44 years without a foreign power on their soil. Two days earlier the people of Sri Lanka found themselves under a “surreptitiously declared” (as it has been aptly called) Emergency Rule – yet again in more than 70 years after independence. I am not drawing any far fetched comparisons between the American withdrawal in Afghanistan and the imposition of emergency rule in Sri Lanka, except to make two points.
One, the imposition of emergency rule on August 30 under the pretext of dealing with the emerging food scarcity situation, is once again a reminder that governments and rulers have no qualms about restricting or putting on hold civil liberties in their countries for their own authoritarian reasons. They not necessarily require a foreign military or agency for it. I am not sure if one should be surprised or not by the government’s decision to impose emergency rule now after steadfastly rejecting calls for emergency measures last year during the first wave of Covid-19.
As many others have pointed out, the imposition of emergency rule as a food emergency measure is quite unnecessary and an obvious overreach. It could also be argued that the government has committed another characteristic blunder and done itself a huge disservice just weeks before its biannual tryst in Geneva. Professor GL Pieris (or PGLP, as he has been delightfully abbreviated) will have his work cut out in arguing his government’s case before UNHRC while the country has been placed under emergency rule by the selfsame government.
Second, there is a critical lesson for Sri Lanka from the experience of Afghanistan over the last 20 years. That experience is also the world’s most spectacular failure of a massive development initiative backed by an equally massive military deployment. Put another way, blind investments in infrastructure development do not automatically produce economic growth and social benefits. When misapplied, they can in fact turn out to be counterproductive. Equally, the efficiency and security benefits often predicated on military deployment are ultimately unsustainable. Either they disappear as soon as the military is withdrawn, or they will degenerate if the military overstays its initial purpose.
These failures have not been quite identified as inherent to the whole American project in Afghanistan. Rather, they have been noted mostly for their symptoms. Corruption was pervasive from top to bottom in the American-backed and now deposed Afghan government. Not to mention the profits and kickbacks that would obviously have figured in the network of public-private American contracts in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, which became an essential part of the Cheney-Rumsfeld military forays. Infrastructure investments were remarkable for their mis-allocation and inappropriateness. Palatial houses and buildings were constucted without roads, water supply, or power supply. Those who were close to power in Kabul benefited conspicuously, while the majority of the population outside Kabul were deprived equally conspicuously. The Afghan economy was virtually propped by the US dollar, and it is now estimated that since 2001, the US spent a total of $ 8 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, or a third of US GDP.
There was nothing organic about the whole exercise and the vast majority of Afghans creatively responded by siding with both the government in Kabul and the Taliban in hinterland. The division of labour was made easy by kinship and extended family networks, and this is part of the reason for the swift collapse of the official army, who knew their Taliban kinsmen more than they knew the government in Kabul. In the end, the threat to women’s rights and freedoms under the Taliban was left to be the only justification for the American project and the main west-stream criticism of its abrupt termination.
Women’s rights were not the reason why Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld prodded their Commander in Chief, President Bush, the younger, to invade first Afghanistan and then Iraq. On the morrow of the invasion of Afghanistan, First Lady Laura Bush, no less, touted women’s rights as justification for taking on the Taliban. In Iraq, there was no gender reason because under Saddam Hussein, Iraqi women were among the freest in the public realm in the Middle East. The private sphere might be a different story but that is so in many societies. Women were and are oppressed in Middle Eastern countries that are traditional allies of America. No one in Washington will think of invading Saudi Arabia to liberate its women. Admittedly, the Taliban went to barbaric extents in ruling Afghanistan after driving out the Soviet army. But who helped the Taliban to drive out the Soviets and seize power?
Historically, there have been significant improvements in women’s rights in Afghanistan from the 1950s, and gender equality was written into the 1964 constitution. After their incursion in 1978, the Soviets pushed hard on women’s equality to the point that the Taliban made it a mobilizing call to defend Islamic traditions against Soviet infidels. The US backed the Taliban to fight the Soviets, directly and through Pakistan, even giving US dollars to buy arms from China. So, it is rather rich for the Americans to claim that they went after the Taliban ten years later to restore women’s rights in Afghanistan. All of this is now water under the bridge.
The Taliban is now saying both publicly and in diplomatic channels that it will allow women and ethnic minorities to continue to work, that senior government positions will be filled on merit, but, however, “in the top posts, in the cabinet, there may not be women.” It will not be easy for the ‘new’ Taliban to house-arrest women as it did in its first coming. Women’s education and employment have risen to impressive levels, with nearly half of government jobs being filled by women. They cannot be easily dispensed with. Additionally, the western governments have considerable economic leverage over the Taliban, and they have made it quite clear that they will use it to hold the Taliban to its word. As well, while the Taliban will increasingly turn to Russia and China for countervailing support, neither country will likely countenance the oppression of women in the name, mistakenly of course, of Sharia law.
On Tuesday, August 31, as the Taliban celebrated the American military’s final flight out of Kabul, President Biden addressed the media and the country from his White House pulpit in Washington. While defiantly defending his pullout decision, the President also stressed that the “era of major military operations to remake other countries” has ended. Some have noted that no previous president has ever said such words before. But the statement in itself is not indicative of any significant change in direction. And after Trump, the world knows that America can become mercurial and unreliable without any warning after a mere electoral college vote count. While there is cross-party public support for not committing American troops to ground wars, Washington can always use other means, such as drones, to wage wars. It is not only the Taliban that has to live up to its word, but also the US government that has to demonstrate that after Afghanistan there could be a different America.
There was in fact a different diplomatic demonstration in Southeast Asia even as the US was airlifting itself out of Afghanistan. In late August, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore and Vietnam capping off a flurry of visits by senior Biden Administration officials to ASEAN countries in recent months. Defense, digital trade and Covid-19, and not Afghanistan, figured prominently in the bilateral discussions in the two countries. In Vietnam, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc was effusive about the growing US-Vietnamese co-operation, which he said was “in line with the wishes of the peoples of the two countries, and the wish the late President Hồ Chí Minh had conveyed in his letter to US President Harry Truman 75 years ago.” Truman of course ignored the now famous letter and its plea for American support to end French colonial rule in Vietnam. America is now fully courting Vietnam while the EU and France are reconsidering their total reliability on the US for their security.
In Sri Lanka, the TNA is calling on the government “to present a solution” to the problems faced by the Tamil people in the North and East, and wants the US to be “the mediator that studies and approves these solutions.” That is a tall ask by any measure and it has come in the wake of dinner diplomacy by the outgoing US US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz, that included TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran and the new Foreign Minister GL Pieris (PGLP) who apparently was directed to attend by his SLPP boss, Finance Minister and dual citizen Basil Rajapaksa. The TNA has been asking for an appointment with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa “to discuss their proposals with him prior to the UNHRC session.” Now they have been put on the spot to talk about the government’s decision to declare Emergency Rule.
When President Jayewardene imposed Emergency Rule exclusively on the Jaffna Peninsula in 1979, the Movement for Inter-Racial Justice & Equality (MIRJE) placed it in the context of Sri Lanka’s historical experience of emergency rule – imposed either to quell working class agitations or political protests. Before and after their 1977 landslide win, JRJ and his UNP severely criticized the prolonged emergency rule of the previous (United Front) government and vowed not to impose emergency rule again. The promise was broken first in Jaffna – ostensibly to “eliminate the menace of terrorism in all its forms,” and over time more inclusively in every part of the country. At the time the Public Security Ordinance No. 25 was enacted in 1947, fundamentally in response to the General Strike of that year, neither Sri Lanka’s first parliament nor anyone else would have foreseen the law becoming, 30 years later, a powerful weapon in the hands of a single individual, namely, an elected president.
Even under the presidential system, parliament retained the power to periodically review and endorse the continuation of emergency rule. The second Rajapaksa regime (2010-2014) managed to find ways to finesse around this requirement. One of the achievements of the one-term Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government was its success in avoiding the imposition of emergency rule. As well, the same government put an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions, and to kidnappings and disappearances outside the law’s radar. Emergency rule is back now, surreptitiously or not, and we know not how far its tentacles will be set to stretch during the remainder of this regime’s tenure. What we know is that emergency rule is not going to be of any help in either controlling Covid-19 or helping people to survive the current ordeal.
If you have a heart, say no to tobacco!
BY Dr. Gotabhya Ranasinghe
(MBBS, MD, FCCP, FRCP, FAPSIC, FACC, FESC)
Consultant in General & Interventional Cardiology, NHSL
Tobacco harms practically all of the body’s organs and is a key risk factor for heart disease!
Smoking can impact all aspects of the cardiovascular system, including the heart, blood, and blood vessels. I know from my experience over the years that about 25% of the patients who seek treatment from me for heart conditions smoke.
Is there a strong link between smoking and heart disease?
Of course, there is! Smoking definitely contributes to heart disease. The majority of smokers experience heart attacks.
Some claim that the only people at risk for heart attacks or strokes are those who are classified as heavy smokers. Although this is the case, did you know that smoking even one or two cigarettes a day might result in heart attacks?
Young smokers are on the rise, which unfortunately brings more cardiac patients between the ages of 20 and 25 to the cardiology unit.
Why is tobacco poison for your heart?
The harmful mix of more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, including nicotine and carbon monoxide, can interfere with vital bodily functions when inhaled.
When you breathe, your lungs absorb oxygen and pass it on to your heart, which then pumps this oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body through the blood arteries. However, when the blood that is circulated to the rest of the body picks up the toxins in cigarette smoke when you breathe it in, your heart and blood arteries are harmed by these substances, which could result in cardiovascular diseases.
What does cigarette smoke do to your heart?
Atherosclerosis (Building up of cholesterol deposits in the coronary artery)
Endothelium dysfunction leads to atherosclerosis. The inner layer of coronary arteries or the arterial wall of the heart both function improperly and contribute to artery constriction when you smoke cigarettes. As a
result, the endothelium-cell barrier that separates the arteries is breached, allowing cholesterol plaque to build up. It’s crucial to realize that smoking increases the risk of endothelial dysfunction in even those who have normal cholesterol levels.
The plaque accumulated in the arteries can burst as a result of continued smoking or other factors like emotional stress or strenuous exercises. Heart attacks occur when these plaque rupture and turn into clots.
Coronary artery spasm
Did you know you can experience a spasm immediately after a puff of smoke?
A brief tightening or constriction of the muscles in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to the heart is referred to as a coronary artery spasm. Part of the heart’s blood flow can be impeded or reduced by a spasm. A prolonged spasm can cause chest pain and possibly a heart attack.
People who usually experience coronary artery spasms don’t have typical heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. However, they are frequent smokers.
An erratic or irregular heartbeat is known as an arrhythmia. The scarring of the heart muscle caused by smoking can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat.Additionally, nicotine can cause arrhythmia by speeding up the heart rate.
One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking!
Did you know the positive impacts start to show as soon as you stop smoking?
After 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate begins to slow down.
In just 12 hours after quitting, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal, allowing more oxygen to reach your heart and other vital organs.
12 to 24 hours after you stop smoking, blood pressure levels return to normal.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease decreases by 50% after one year of no smoking.
So let us resolve to protect and improve heart health by saying no to tobacco!
Religious cauldron being stirred; filthy rich in abjectly poor country
What a ho ha over a silly standup comedian’s stupid remarks about Prince Siddhartha. I have never watched this Natasha Edirisuriya’s supposedly comic acts on YouTube or whatever and did not bother to access derogatory remarks she supposedly introduced to a comedy act of hers that has brought down remand imprisonment on her up until June 6. Speaking with a person who has his ear to the ground and to the gossip grape wine, I was told her being remanded was not for what she said but for trying to escape consequences by flying overseas – to Dubai, we presume, the haven now of drug kingpins, money launderers, escapees from SL law, loose gabs, and all other dregs of society.
Of course, derogatory remarks on any religion or for that matter on any religious leader have to be taboo and contraveners reprimanded publicly and perhaps imposed fines. However, imprisonment according to Cassandra is too severe.
Just consider how the Buddha treated persons who insulted him or brought false accusations against him including the most obnoxious and totally improbable accusation of fatherhood. Did he even protest, leave along proclaim his innocence. Did he permit a member of the Sangha to refute the accusations? Not at all! He said aloud he did not accept the accusations and insults. Then he asked where the accusations would go to? Back to sender/speaker/accuser. That was all he said.
Thus, any person or persons, or even all following a religion which is maligned should ignore what was said. Let it go back and reside with the sayer/maligner. Of course, the law and its enforcers must spring to action and do the needful according to the law of the land.
One wonders why this sudden spurt of insults arrowed to Buddhism. Of course, the aim is to denigrate the religion of the majority in the land. Also perhaps with ulterior motives that you and Cass do not even imagine. In The Island of Wednesday May 31, MP Dilan Perera of Nidahas Janatha Sabawa (difficult to keep pace with birth of new political parties combining the same words like nidahas and janatha to coin new names) accused Jerome Fernando and Natasha E as “actors in a drama orchestrated by the government to distract people from the real issues faced by the masses.”
We, the public, cannot simply pooh pooh this out of hand. But is there a deeper, subtler aim embedded in the loose talk of Jerome and his followers? Do we not still shudder and shake with fear and sympathy when we remember Easter Sunday 2019 with its radical Muslim aim of causing chaos? It is said and believed that the Muslim radicals wanted not only to disrupt Christian prayer services on a holy day but deliver a blow to tourism by bombing hotels.
Then their expectation was a backlash from the Sinhalese which they hoped to crush by beheading approaching Sinhala avenging attackers with swords they had made and stacked. This is not Cass’ imagination running riot but what a Catholic Priest told us when we visited the Katuwapitiya Church a couple of weeks after the dastardly bombing.
It is believed and has been proclaimed there was a manipulating group led by one demented person who egged the disasters on with the double-edged evil aim of disrupting the land and then promising future security if … Hence, we cannot be so naïve as to believe that Jerome and Natasha were merely careless speakers. Who knows what ulterior moves were dictated to by power-mad black persons and made to brew in the national cauldron of discontent? Easiest was to bring to the boil religious conflict, since the races seem to be co-living harmoniously, mostly after the example of amity set before the land and internationally of Sri Lankans of all races, religions, social statuses and ages being able to unite during the Aragalaya.
We have already suffered more than our fair share of religious conflict. The LTTE exploded a vehicle laden with bombs opposite the Dalada Maligawa; shot at the Sacred Bo Tree, massacred a busload of mostly very young Buddhist monks in Aranthalawa. This was on June 2, 1987, particularly pertinent today. They killed Muslims at prayer in a mosque in Katankudy after ethnically cleansing Jaffna and adjoining areas of Muslim populations.
The Sinhalese, led by ultra-nationalists and drunken goons ravaged Tamils in 1983 and then off and on conflicted with Muslims. Hence the need to nip all and every religious conflict in the bud; no preachers/ Buddhist monks/overzealous lay persons, or comedians and media persons to be allowed to malign religions and in the name of religion cause conflict, least of all conflagration.
Comes to mind the worst case of religious intolerance, hate, revenge and unthinkable cruelty. Cass means here the prolonged fatwa declared against Salman Rushdie (1947-), British American novelist of Indian origin who had a ransom set aside for his life declared by the then leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, soon after Rushdie’s novel Satanic Verses was published in 1988. The British government diligently ensured his safety by hiding him in various places. After nearly two decades of tight security around him, he ventured to the US on an invited visit. He settled down in New York, believing he was now safe from the fatwa and mad men. It was not to be. In New York on stage to deliver a lecture in 2022, Rushdie was set upon by a lone assailant who stabbed him in the eye, blinding him in that eye and necessitating his wearing an eye band. What on earth was his crime? Writing a fictitious story to succeed many he had written and won prizes for like the Booker.
Religious fanaticism must never be permitted to raise its devilish head wherever, whenever.
Farmer’s fabulously rich son
Often quoted is the phrase coined by the Tourist Board, Cass believes, to describe Sri Lanka. Land like no other. It was completely complementary and justified when it was first used. We were an almost unique island where every prospect pleased, particularly its smiling, easy going people and the wonderful terrain of the land with varying altitudes, climates and fauna and flora.
Then with the decline of the country engineered and wrought by evil, self-gratifying politicians, their sidekicks and dishonest bureaucrats, disparities became stark. Sri Lanka is now in the very dumps: bankrupt, its social, economic and sustainability fabric in shreds and people suffering immensely. But since it is a land like no other with a different connotation, only certain of its population suffer and undergo deprivation and hardship. Others live grand even now and have money stashed high in–house and overseas in banks, businesses and dubious off shore dealings. Some lack the few rupees needed to travel in a bus but most political bods drive around in luxury cars; infants cry for milk and children for a scrap of bread or handful of rice. Plain tea is drunk by many to quell pangs of hunger while the corrupt VIPs quaff champaign and probably have exotic foods flown over from gourmet venues.
And most of those who drive luxury cars, eat and drink exotically and live the GOOD life, did not inherit wealth, nor earn it legitimately. Young men who had not a push bike to ride or Rs 25 to go on a school trip to Sigiriya are now fabulously wealthy. Cass does not want to list how they demonstrate immense wealth possession now.
One case in the news is Chaminda Sirisena, who seems to be very, very wealthy, wearing a ring that is valued at Rs 10 million, and then losing it to cause severe damnation to its stealer. Goodness! Cass cannot even imagine such a ring. Well, he lost it and 5,000 US $ and Rs 100,000. The suspect is his personal security guard. Having never heard of this brother of the ex Prez and he not being the paddy multimillionaire owning hotels, Cass googled. Here is short reply, “Chaminda Sirisena. Owner Success Lanka Innovative Company, Sri Lanka, 36 followers, 36 connections. (The last two bits of info completely incomprehensible and no desire at all to verify). He sure is comparable to Virgin Airways Branson and other top global entrepreneurs to become so wealthy being a son of a man who served in WWII and was given a small acreage to cultivate paddy in Polonnaruwa. When his brother Maitripala became Prez of Sri Lanka it was with pride the comparison was brought in to the American President who moved from log cabin to the White House.
Hence isn’t our beloved, now degraded Sri Lanka, a land like no other with Midases around?
We now have another maybe thief to worry about. No further news of the poor mother whose life was quashed for the sake of a gold ring, leaving three children motherless and probably destitute. When we were young, we were told very early on that if we lost anything it was more our fault; we were careless and placed temptation to less fortunate persons. The Tamil woman who died after being in remand was such a one who needed extra protection from temptation. To Cass her employer is more to blame for the probable theft and for the tragedy that followed.
Snakes of Sri Lanka
By Ifham Nizam
Snake bites are a serious public health issue in Sri Lanka. It has been estimated that nearly 80,000 snake bites occur here every year.Due to fear and poor knowledge, hundreds of thousands of snakes, mostly non-venomous ones, are killed by humans each year.The state spends more than USD 10 million a year on treating snake bite patients.
According to health sector statistics between 30,000 and 40,000 snake bite patients receive treatment in hospitals annually, says Dr. Anjana Silva, who is Professor in Medical Parasitology, Head/ Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Rajarata University.
To date, 93 land and 15 sea snake species have been recorded from Sri Lanka. While all 15 sea snakes are venomous, only 20% of the land snakes are venomous or potentially venomous.
The term, ‘venomous snakes’ does not mean they cause a threat to human lives every time they cause a bite. The snakes of highest medical importance are the venomous ones which are common or widespread and cause numerous snakebites, resulting in severe envenoming, disability or death,” says Dr. Silva who is also Adjunct Senior Research Fellow – Monash Venom Group,Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University and Research Associate- South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya.
Only five snakes could be considered to be of the highest medical importance in Sri Lanka: Russell’s viper, Indian krait, Sri Lankan cobra, Merrem’s hump-nosed viper and Saw-scaled viper. All but Merrem’s hump-nosed vipers are covered by Indian Polyvalent antivenom, the only treatment available for snake bites in Sri Lanka.
There are another five snake species with secondary medical importance, which are venomous snakes and capable of causing morbidity, disability or death, but the bites are less frequent due to various reasons (Sri Lankan krait, Highland Hump-nosed viper, Lowland hump-nosed pit viper, Green-pit viper and Beaked sea snake)
The snakes of highest medical importance in Sri Lanka are as follows:
- Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) (Sinhala: Thith Polanga/ Tamil: Kannadi viriyan)
Medically the most important snake in Sri Lanka. It is found throughout South Asia. It is responsible for about 30% of snake bites in Sri Lanka and also about 70% of deaths due to snake bites in Sri Lanka.
Some 2-5% bites by Russell’s viper are fatal. Widely distributed throughout the country up to the elevations of 1,500m from sea level. Highly abundant in paddy fields and farmlands but also found in dry zone forests and scrub lands. Bites occur more during the beginning and end of the farming seasons in dry zone. It can grow up to 1.3m in length. Most bites are reported during day time.
Over 85% of the bites are at the level of or below the ankle. It is a very aggressive snake when provoked. Spontaneous bleeding due to abnormalities in blood clotting and kidney failure have life-threatening effects.
- The Sri Lankan Russell’s vipers cause mild paralysis as well, which is not life threatening. Indian Polyvalent antivenom covers Russell’s viper envenoming. Deaths could be due to severe internal bleeding and acute renal failure.
- Indian Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) (Sinhala: Thel Karawala/ Maga Maruwa; Tamil: Yettadi virian/ Karuwelan Pambu)
It is distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is found across the lowland semi-arid, dry and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka. Almost absent in the wet zone. Usually, a non-offensive snake during the daytime; however, it could be aggressive at night.
Common kraits slither into human settlements at night looking for prey. People who sleep on the ground are prone to their bites.
Most common krait bites do occur at night. Bites are more common during the months of September to December when the north-east monsoon is active. Most hospital admissions of krait bites follow rainfall, even following a shower after several days or months without rain.
Since most bites do occur while the victim is asleep, the site of bite could be in any part of the body.
As bite sites have minimal or no effects, it would be difficult to find an exact bite site in some patients. Bite site usually is painless and without any swelling. Causes paralysis in body muscles which can rapidly lead to life threatening respiratory paralysis (breathing difficulty).
- Sri Lankan Cobra (Naja polyoccelata; Naja naja) Sinhala: Nagaya; Tami: Nalla pambu
Sri Lankan cobra is an endemic species in Sri Lanka. It is common in lowland (<1200m a.s.l), close to human settlements. Cobras are found on plantations and in home gardens, forests, grasslands and paddy fields. It is the only snake with a distinct hood in Sri Lanka.
Hood has a spectacle marking on the dorsal side and has two black spots and the neck usually has three black bands on the ventral side. When alarmed, cobras raise the hood and produce a loud hiss.
Cobra bites could occur below the knee. They are very painful and lead to severe swelling and tissue death around the affected place. Rapidly progressing paralysis could result from bites, sometimes leading to life-threatening respiratory paralysis (breathing difficulty). Deaths could also be due to cardiac arrest due to the venom effects.
- Merrem’s hump-nosed viper (Hypnale hypnale) Sinhala: Polon Thelissa/ Kunakatuwa; Tamil: Kopi viriyan.
Small pit-vipers grow up to 50cm in length. Head is flat and triangular with a pointed and raised snout. They are usually found coiled, they keep the heads at an angle of 45 degrees. Merrem’s Hump-nosed viper (Hypnale hypnale) is the medically most important Hump-nosed viper as it leads to 35-45% of all snake bites in Sri Lanka.
Merrem’s Hump-nosed vipers are very common in home gardens and on plantations and grasslands. Bites often happen during various activities in home gardens and also during farming activities in farmlands in both dry and wet zones. Hands and feet (below the ankle) are mostly bitten. Bites can often lead to local swelling and pain and at times, severe tissue death around the bite site may need surgical removal of dead tissue or even amputations. Rarely, patients could develop mild blood clotting abnormalities and acute kidney failure. Although rare, deaths are reported due to hypnale bites.
- Saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus), Sinhala: Weli Polanga; Tamil: Surutai Viriyan
This species is widely distributed in South Asia. However, in Sri Lanka, it is restricted to dry coastal regions such as Mannar, Puttalam, Jaffna peninsula and Batticaloa. In Sri Lanka, this snake grows upto 40-50cm. It is a nocturnal snake which is fond of sand dunes close to the beach. It could be found under logs and stones during daytime. Bites are common during January and February.
It is a very aggressive snake. A distinct, white colour ‘bird foot shape’ mark or a ‘diamond shape’ mark could be seen over the head. When alarmed, it makes a hissing sound by rubbing the body scales. Although this snake causes frequent severe envenoming and deaths in other countries, its bites are relatively less severe in Sri Lanka. Bites could lead to mild to moderate swelling and pain on the affected place and blood clotting abnormalities and haemorrhage and rarely it could lead to kidney failure.
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