In January 2020, I started working at Adam’s Bridge National Marine Park. It was my first assignment as a wildlife Ranger.
Thalaimannar was the island’s southernmost point, and there are roughly 17 islands between there and Rameswaran in India. The eight islands that are located in Sri Lankan waters are owned by the island nation. The national marine park known as Adam’s Bridge contains these eight islands. India owns the remaining 9 islands.
Here is a bit harsh environment. The people of Thalaimannar are mostly Tamil and Muslim. There are Sinhalese people in government institutions like the police and the navy. Because there are no elephants, tigers or bears in this area, the Department of Wildlife is not very connected with public life.
The islands of Adam’s Bridge National Marine Park and the surrounding ocean are a beautiful ecosystem and also have seagrass beds. There are dugongs, turtles and fish. Dugongs and turtles go to other places to lay their eggs. They come here to reproduce and find food. That’s why the ecosystem is important to them.
Around Welipara Islands 3, 4, 5, migratory birds lay their eggs for a period of time and they are mostly Sea gull species. At that time, there are too many eggs even difficult to set foot on the islands. There are about ten thousand birds in these eight islands. When the sun sets, you can see beautiful scenery.
The shape of these islands changes day by day. There are islands of about ½ square kilometer. The 1st island is attached to Mannar Island. However, Mannar Island does not belong to Adam’s Bridge.
The total area of Adam’s Bridge Park is about 18,000 hectares. A small extent of this area belongs to land and a majority area belongs to the ocean region. The wildlife department has a boat, we go on patrols in that boat. Therefore, it is difficult to go to the hurricane season and we go to the season when the sea is not rough. In the past, there were facilities to come to Thalaimannar by train and go by boat to Rameswaran and Dhanushkodi in India. There are still 2 dilapidated piers remain.
There are several legends about Adam’s Bridge. After King Ravana brought Goddess Sita to Sri Lanka, it was said that Hanumanta and the monkey army were built it for Rama and his army. It is one legend.
In addition, there is another legend connecting it to “Adam” and “Eve”. There were floating stone species here. Adam was able to find them by jumping from one stone to another.
This incident took place in “Nadu Kuda” in Thalaimannaram area. That day, on 12.12.2021, The National Park starts from Urumale area. Our office is situated in Urumale. From there, it is about 15 kilometers to Nduguda.
The office received a phone message from a fisherman saying that two big fish were entangled in his fishing net. We left to check; I went on a motorbike with the Field Assistant. Another Ranger and boat operator came in the bus.
When we went and looked, it was not fish but two dugongs caught in the net. There are only a few of them around the coast of Sri Lanka. There are no people here who have seen living sea pigs. We see only the carcasses washed ashore from the sea. But just only one within a year.
There was a female and a male animal. The female is large, about 4 feet 6 inches. The male is about 7 feet and looks like it’s mother and son.
The fisherman had already freed the net when we arrived, and both creatures were lying on the ground. I understood that the calf must have been sucking milk from the mother when I noticed the milk streaming from her nipples. It’s possible that the mother has the strength to get through the net. She might have continued to be with the infant even so.
I then asked for advice from the Assistant Director and the Head office. The head office advised that the two animals should be preserved. After that, we brought the bodies in a truck to the fish freezer in Thalaimannar.
The bodies were loaded and unloaded using a dozer. The Kilinochchi veterinarian performed the post-mortem examinations on the animals. The investigation provided proof that the animals were caught in the net and died from lack of oxygen. The two bodies were transported to the Kalpitiya Field Security Office for preservation following the autopsy. The preservation work is now being finished.
Dugongs are endangered, protected species. I was horrified by the deaths of these two animals. As a result, this experience will always be a memorable one for me.
K.W. Mr. Malshan has joined the Department of Wildlife on 19.11.2019. G.E.C., having passed A Level in Biology stream, he appeared for the competitive examination and after passing an interview, he joined the Department of Wildlife as a Class 3 Wildlife Ranger.
After 6 months of training at Wilpattu Zone No. 4, Thanthirimale Site Security Office and Nallathenna Site Security Office, Mr. Malshan got his first appointment at Adam’s Bridge Ocean Sanctuary.
Due to his love for animals, he joined the department of wildlife and performs his duties with joy and dedication. By now, he has received training related to law and weapons training in the same department.
Mr. Malshan studied at Central College, Anuradhapura.
Still unmarried, he resides at 127, VataVandana Road, KuttamPokuna, Anuradhapura with his mother, father and Sisiter.
The Mannar Sea’s Sand Dunes Islands, which are considered to be of historical, biological, and ecological significance, weredesignated Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park on June 22, 2015. This is the only protected area that the Department of Wildlife Conservation has announced thus far that bears the word “marine” in the gazette. As a saltwater wetland ecosystem, Sand DunesIslands extending includes 08 main islands and the surrounding shallow sea area from Thalaimannar Island in the Mannar District of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka to the border of the Dhanushkodi in India. As per the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, the total area is spread over 18990 hectares. The sea area around the archipelago that runs from Sri Lanka to India is shallow and the reason for this is the coral reef system that is spread around Mannar.
In the past from time to time,the border between Sri Lanka and India used to be a land or submerged by sea water. The relationship ended with the separation of the two countries during the Ice Age about 10,000-7,000 years ago. As mentioned in the Ramayana, Hindus believe that Sita was abducted by King Ravana from India and brought to Lankapura and the bridge which is known as Hanuman Bridge or Rama Bridge was built by an army of over 40000 Apes, in order to bring the solders here from India by Prince Rama. It is also said that it has been called Adam’s Bridge in later based on the various historical beliefs and phenomena of Muslims as well as Christians. Therefore, this is a culturally highly reverenced land.
A distinctive feature of Adam’s Bridge National Park is its extended islands. Although predominantly identified as a salt marsh, some of the islands have low salinity seawater in their water holes. The shape of the islands is constantly changing, especially due to wind currents and sea waves. Although climatic condition is semi-arid,it is not felt that there is such a high temperature due to the constant sea breeze.
As a Salt water ecosystem, although it does not show as much plant diversity as other ecosystems, about 20 species have been identified. Here there is an ecosystem of grass species and salt marsh. These species of plants like to grow in saline water and are very helpful in controlling the salinity of wetlands. bay hops or beach morning glory (Ipomoea pescaprae), white flowered black mangrove (Lumnitzera racemosa), heen thakkada (Scaevola plumieri), ravan’s mustache (Spinifex littoreus) etc. can be seen here.
Water holes seen in the islands
Environment with various plants
Among the animal species that can be seen mainly are bird species. About 38 migratory and resident bird species are recorded in wetlands. This area is a very sensitive breeding area where resident sea bird species build nests and lay eggs. Among them, there are thousands of egg nests of resident seabirds such as capsian tern (Sterna caspia), great crested tern (Thalasseus bergii), lesser crested tern (Thalasseus bengalensis) and whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida), etc. Secoend, third and fifth islands, can be mentioned as the largest breeding nesting area of sea terns recorded in our country. The extremely rare migratory birds such as eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) which is an oyster-dependent bird that lives only in swamps, terek sandpiper (Xenus cinereus), sanderling (Calidris alba), bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica), dunlin (Calidris alpina) etc., are also found in the area.
Flocks of great crested terns
08 species of butterflies and 06 species of moths are found in this park. A very beautiful butterflyspecies, crimson rose (Pachliopta hector) is also found there. 07 species of frogs can also be seen in this environment. Common garden lizard (Calotesversicolor) and 02 species of marine turtles; green sea turtle (Cheloniamydas) and olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelysolivacea) as reptile speciesare easily observable.
In view of the biodiversity of the park, providing shelter for birds and is abundance of food, it is important to take measures to protect the nesting grounds of animals as well. It is also important to protect the habitats of animal species such as the sea horse, which is under severe threat. As all the turtle species reported in Sri Lanka use the surrounding area as breeding areas, it is very important to protect those areas. It is also special that migratory birds used to use the fourth island as their stopover when coming to and leaving the island.
Named as SetuSamudram, Hanumanta Bridge and Adam’s Bridge, this group of sandbar islands is a unique product of nature built from a set of economic, social and culturally important ties between India and Sri Lanka. According to geological evidence, this bridge is an ancient land link between India and Sri Lanka.
A research team of the Wildlife Department conducted a biodiversity survey here and it was further discovered that there is significant biodiversity as well as ecological importance.
|කැප්සියා මුහුදුළිහිණියා||கஸ்பியன் ஆலா||Capsian tern||Sterna caspia|
මහ කොණ්ඩ මුහුදුළිහිණියා
பெரிய கொண்டை ஆலா
හීන් කොණ්ඩ මුහුදුළිහිණියා
சிறிய கொண்டை ஆலா
Lesser crested tern
ஐரோவாசியா சிப்பி பிடிப்பான்
Common garden lizard
Green sea turtle
ஒலிவ நிறச் சிற்றாமை
Olive ridley sea turtle
Bay hops or beach morning glory
White flowered black mangrove
|මහා රාවණ රැවුල||இராவணன் மீசை||Ravan’s moustache||Spinifex littoreus|
Editor– Dammika Malsinghe, Additional Secretary,Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation (MWFRC)
Article on park written by– Hasini Sarathchandra, Chief Media Officer, Department of Wildlife Coservation (DWLC) MaheshaChathuraniPerera ,Development Officer, (DWLC)
Tamil Translations– A.R.F. Rifna, Development Officer, MWFRC
English Translations – Asoka Palihawadana, Translator, MWFRC
Web Designing–N.I.Gayathri, Development Officer,MWFRC -C.A.D.D.A. Kollure, Management Service Officer, MWFRC
Photography– Rohitha Gunawardana, DWLC
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