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Scientists find a new frog genus in Andamans, names it after a Sri Lankan taxonomist

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI. A study by scientists from three countries has reported a new genus of the Old World treefrog family Rhacophoridae — the first report of a tree frog species (Striped Bubble-nest frog) from the Andaman Islands.

The study was led by Prof S D Biju of Delhi University, and included researchers from India, Indonesia and China.

The new genus ‘Rohanixalus’ is named after Sri Lankan taxonomist Rohan Pethiyagoda.

A taxonomist is a biologist who groups organisms into categories. A plant taxonomis, for example, may study the origins and relationships between different types of roses while an insect taxonomist may focus on the relationships between different types of beetles.

The findings are published in an article titled ‘New insights on the systematics and reproductive behaviour in tree frogs of the genus Feihyla, with description of a new related genus from Asia (Anura, Rhacophoridae)’ in the current issue of Zootaxa, an international journal of animal systematics.

“Our discovery of a treefrog member from Andaman Islands is unexpected and once again highlights the importance of dedicated faunal surveys and explorations for proper documentation of biodiversity in a… country like India. This finding also uncovers an interesting new distribution pattern of treefrogs that provides evidence for faunal exchange between Andamans and the Indo-Burma region,” said Biju.

The scientists studied “external morphology of adults and tadpoles, phylogeny, calls, and breeding biology of several treefrog species widely distributed across South, Southeast, and East Asia” to confirm that it is a new genus.

Researchers said Rohanix-alus is the “20th recognised genus of the family Rhacopho-ridae and currently comprises eight out of the 422 known Old World treefrog species found in Asia and Africa”.

They are characterised by a “rather small and slender body (2-3 cm long), a pair of contrastingly coloured lateral lines on either side of the body, minute brown speckles scattered throughout the upper body, light green-coloured eggs laid in arboreal bubble-nests, and several unique behavioural traits including maternal egg attendance”.

Besides DU, the team had researchers from Zoological Survey of India – Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, and National Centre for Cell Science, in addition to researchers from Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Chengdu Institute of Biology (China) and Chulalongkorn University (Thailand).



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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