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Two endangered geckos named after Jagath and Samantha

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By Ifham Nizam

Two critically endangered geckos have been named after famous environmental lawyer Dr. Jagath Gunawardena and former Deputy Director of Sri Lanka Customs Samantha Gunasekara, for their major efforts and contributions to biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka

Both were also recognised for their support, motivation, and encouragement to authors to accomplish their research and career goals.

Gunawardena’s Day Gecko (Cnemaspis gunawardanai) newly discovered species is only found in two localities: Pilikuttuwa and Maligatenna in the Gampaha District. Gunasekara’s Day Gecko (Cnemaspis gunasekarai) only lives in Ritigala Forest, in the Anuradhapura District, which is a wet forest patch on an isolated mountain range in the north central dry zone..

With the discovery of these two new species, the total number of day-gecko species in Sri Lanka reaches 40.

There are 38 species of tiny day-geckos living in Sri Lanka, and most of them are forest dwelling species. All of these species are endemic to the island.

A renowned team of herpetologists led by A.A. Thasun Amarasinghe from the University of Indonesia discovered the two species from Pilikuttuwa Forest – Gampaha and Ritigala Forest – Anuradhapura respectively. Both species are critically endangered and one of them at the brink of extinction, says Thasun Amarasinghe

Dr. Gunawardana’s valuable contributions to popularising environmental law among the general public are highly commendable. Currently he is an advisor to many government institutions such as Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Department of Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forestry etc. Dr. Gunawardana is also a senior member and a former instructor of the Young Zoologists’ Association (YZA) of Sri Lanka.

The new species found from Ritigala named to honour a leading environmental activist, conservationist, and former Deputy Director of Sri Lanka Customs (Government of Sri Lanka), Samantha Gunasekara, for his dedication and contributions to biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka, as well as his generous friendship and support towards the authors.

His valuable contributions to the Sri Lanka Customs Department in controlling biodiversity trafficking, illegal pet trade, and biopiracy, as well as to popularizing conservation among the general public, are highly commendable. Mr. Gunasekara is also a senior member and a former president of the Young Zoologists’ Association (YZA) of Sri Lanka.

The Research team consist of four leading herpetologists, A.A. Thasun Amarasinghe from University of Indonesia, Suranjan Karunarathna from Nature Explorations & Education Team of Sri Lanka Majintha Madawala from Victorian Herpetological Society of Australia, Anslem de Silva from Amphibia & Reptile Research Organization of Sri Lanka.

“We first got the attention about these new geckos while we were examining specimens at the National Museum of Sri Lanka,’’ says Thasun and Suranjan.

It seems the rupicolous (rock dwelling) species show higher speciation and diversity compared to the arboreal species, probably due to the isolation in and adaptation to isolated rocky habitats scattered in different bioclimatic zones in Sri Lanka, says Thasun. Supporting this hypothesis, among the currently known species of the day-geckos in Sri Lanka, only seven are fully arboreal, and the rest of 33 species are mainly rock-dwelling, adds Thasun.



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Employees’ Trust Fund Act No. 46 of 1980 to be amended

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Hon. President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to instruct the legal draftsman to prepare a bill to amend the Employees’ Trust Provident Fund Act No. 46 of 1980 enabling to provide health insurance similar to Agrahara health insurance to private sector employees.

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Cabinet nod for MOU between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives on Cultural Cooperation

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural affairs to sign a cultural cooperation agreement between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. (The draft agreement has received the clearance of the Attorney General and the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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Outgoing Bulgarian Ambassador calls on the President

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(pic PMD)

Mrs. Eleonora Dimitrova, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, met President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (06), before departing for her home country upon completing her tenure in Sri Lanka.

 

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