The Kirala Kele wetland in southern Sri Lanka is a haven for birds and birdwatchers alike, and the arrival of the rare migratory Baillon’s Crake marked a fitting celebration for World Wetland Day earlier this month.

As well as Kirala Kele being an important habitat, a government plan has earmarked it as a tourist attraction, underlined by World Tourism Day events organized by conservationists and nature lovers.

However, the Sunday Times reports that the initiative has stalled, and is now urging the authorities do more to protect and preserve the wetlands for foreign visitors and Sri Lankans alike.

It follows warnings from Ruhuna University’s Professor Saman Chandana Ediriweera that “recent human activities within the premises of the sanctuary would prove harmful to the ecosystem”.

He says: “The area is an ideal wetland habitat for many organisms and can be considered as one of the most valuable conserved areas in the Matara District.”

But he points to “garbage dumping, removal of vegetation, hunting, spread of invasive weeds as major threats”, and that the authorities should take “immediate steps to curb these threats and save Kirala Kele wetland”.

According to a study conducted by IUCN Sri Lanka, 83 plant species, 25 species of fish and 13 mammal species including the endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey inhabit Kirala Kele.

Read the full story here.

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