The future of nature in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer
WNPS Monthly Lecture

The future of nature in Sri Lanka

11 June, 2023

WNPS Monthly Lecture, THE FUTURE OF NATURE IN SRI LANKA will be delivered by Dr. Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi on June 15 at 6 pm at the BMICH.

In this edition of the WNPS Monthly lecture, Dr. Manamendra-Arachchi intends to discuss his 40 years of experience in wildlife research. He will focus the audience’s attention on the ideas he has expressed, and predictions he has made in this field, since 1980s.

Based on them, he will discuss the future of Nature in Sri Lanka, as he sees it being, and what needs to be done to ensure its preservation. This is surely an opportunity not to be missed, for any of every age, who have an interest, scientific or lay, in Sri Lanka’s magnificent biodiversity. Who better than a modern legend of conservation to listen to and learn from?

Dr. Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi is a name that slips easily off the tongue of aspiring young scientists, researchers, environmentalists and conservationists of Sri Lanka, not to mention his academic peers, for the volume of work that he has undertaken over four decades. His numerous publications – research papers and books – are invaluable reading for those who wish to learn of modern discoveries in the Zoology of Sri Lanka, and the dedication, discipline and hard work it takes to achieve all he has.

That is why this lecture, which will be delivered primarily in Sinhala, is bound to attract many of this number; for they are the human hope in whose hands the future of Nature in Sri Lanka rests. Dr. Manamendra-Arachchi is credited with discovering, and scientifically describing, over 70 species of amphibians, reptiles and mammals of Sri Lanka; he is credited with over half of the hitherto known 100+ species of amphibians. He has published a considerable number of research papers at both local and international levels on Zoo-Archaeology, Paleontology, Ecology and Taxonomy.

His articles, lectures and interviews, in a variety of media forms and forums, have contributed to the furtherance of public knowledge and awareness of these subjects. He has worked with, and been mentored, by such giants in the field of conservation and science as Rohan Pethiyagoda and P. B. Karunaratne. While the former requires no introduction to environmentalists in Sri Lanka, the latter was one of the foremost Zoo-Archaeologists in the 1980s.

In Dr. Manamendra-Arachchi’s view, taxonomy is important for wildlife conservations, and research is necessary to ensure the survival of species. He believes that after the 1990s, the importance of the country’s biodiversity was enhanced through the attention paid by Sri Lankan researchers to Fish, Gecko, Lizard and Snake species; he playing a major role in this renaissance. However, as a realist, he understands the importance that the biodiversity of Sri Lanka has in boosting its National income.

In 2022, in recognition of Dr. Manamendra-Arachchi’s priceless contribution to Science, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura honoured him with a Doctor of Philosophy degree. In addition, his invaluable contribution to the understanding of the Natural World of this island has led him to being recognized, both locally and internationally for his achievements. Some of these honours are the Presidential Award for Taxonomy and Zoo-Archaeology in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2009, and in 2008 he received the award for the Top Ten discovery of remarkable new species’’ from the International Institute for Species Exploration, Arizona State University. The monthly lecture of the WNPS is supported by the Nations Trust Bank. Entrance free to both members and non-members.