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WNPS partners with HFS on scientific research for habitat conservation of SL’s Knuckles World Heritage Site

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The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka (WNPS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka (HFS) on a project to help habitat conservation of Sri Lanka’s Knuckles World Heritage Site, a WNPS news release said.

Mr L. J. Mendis Wickramasinghe is an ecologist, herpetologist and well-known wildlife photographer. He formed the Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka (HFS) in 2007, to pursue independent research on Sri Lanka’s herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians of a particular region, habitat, or geological period) and also provide a platform for young herpetologists to initiate research. He is credited with the discovery of no less than 34 novel species.

This new project will comprise three main components specifically Research, Education and Advocating Policy Planning, aligning well with WNP’s goal of biodiversity conservation through education, research and policy.

The Knuckles Conservation Forest is part of Sri Lanka’s central highlands and part of the region considered to be a super biodiversity hotspot, comprising the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest.

These montane forests, where the mountains rise to 2,500 metres above sea-level, are home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species. The Knuckles landscape is home to 29 endemic species of fauna and flora, of which 23 are herpetofauna. Research indicates that there is a vast number of new species yet to be discovered!

Most of the habitats of these species are under severe anthropogenic pressures. Some may even be hyperendemic, any adverse effect which might change or destroy their habitats and even result in complete extinction. Hence, these species are classified as threatened, according to IUCN Red List criteria. Therefore, there is a great urgency to publish these species to sustainably manage our ecosystems and conserve their habitats and biodiversity.

The Society is funding the Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka (HFS) to help conduct the research which spans several months, with the project results to be published in peer reviewed international scientific journals as well as WNPS’s Loris Magazine. The rights of the intellectual property arising from the MOU will be shared equally amongst both organizations.



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Keheliya, seven others further remanded till 28th June

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court today [14] ordered that former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and seven others be further remanded until June 28 by over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

 

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President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for Sri Lankan Youth

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched www.publiclearn.lk a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, on Thursday [13]

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. .

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

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Easter Sunday carnage: ‘Another probe nothing but an exercise in futility’

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Rev. Father Cyril Gamini

‘Implement PCoI recommendations at least now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church yesterday (14) reiterated its longstanding demand that the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into 2019 Easter Sunday attacks be implemented.

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said so when The Island sought the Catholic Church’s reaction to the appointment by President Ranil Wickremesinghe a new committee of inquiry to investigate the actions and responses of the country’s intelligence and security authorities following the intelligence warning received from India.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Ms. A. N. J. de Alwis. Rev. Fernando said that the government should implement the recommendations made by the PCoI headed by Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva. He said another inquiry would be nothing but an exercise in futility as the PCoI conducted an in-depth investigation into the Easter attacks, including the failure on the part of the intelligence apparatus to act on foreign intelligence as well neutralise the growing threat posed by extremist elements.

Rev. Fr. Fernando questioned the rationale behind re-examining the conduct of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) as the Supreme Court in January last year ordered Senior DIG Nilantha Jayewardena and retired DIG Sisira Mendis, who headed the SIS and functioned as CNI, respectively, to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 75 mn and Rs 10 mn.

“What is there to investigate again?” Rev Fernando asked, urging the government to go through the PCoI recommendations in respect of politicians and security officials.

In addition to the PCoI report, the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Special Investigation Committee of three members appointed by the then President Maithriapla Sirisena probed the Easter carnage, Rev Fernando said, adding that if those in parliament were still interested in justice and fair play should look into that matter.

Rev. Fernando urged the government to examine how successive leaders had responded to PCoI findings. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a committee consisting of six MPs to look into the PCoI report and its findings soon after justice Janak de Silva handed over his report on Feb 1, 2021 it became clear that the powers that be would resort to old tactics. Nearly two years after President Rajapaksa’s ouster, the situation remained the same, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the Church wouldn’t give up its fight for justice.

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