Colombo's fishy beauty in danger of extinction

Also: Man arrested about to skin croc

Pethia Cumingii known as ‘Depulliya’ in Sinhala is now a native endangered species.

According to The Island newspaper, in 1991 this ornamental fish was found in eight locations, but in 2012 its habitat has reduced to five.

Found in mountain streams in Sri Lanka, basically in the Kalu Ganga. The habitats of this fish are spread in Horana, Ingiriya and Bodinagala in Colombo.

Environmentalists yesterday urged the government not to ease the regulations regarding the export of endemic species of freshwater fish and plants to boost the profits of the ornamental fish exporting industry.

According to environmentalists, the Wildlife Conservation Department (WCD), on the instructions of the Economic Development Ministry, was to formulating rules and regulations to ease the export of rare, endemic and protected freshwater plants and fish.

Environmentalists accused the ornamental fish exporting industry of seeking to loosen regulations in order to boost their earnings.

Addressing the media, at the National Library Auditorium on Wednesday (09), Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Director, Sajeeva Chamikara claimed that if those rare, endemic and protected species, which were protected under the flora and fauna protection ordinance, were removed from their original places, for the special breeding system, they would be extinct in a short time.

He warned that freshwater fish, some that have been named only in the recent past, were under threat due to over fishing for export.

Chamikara stressed that people would collect those species from their native environment to the point of extinction to make money.

Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunawardane said that if the present trend of over exploitation continued, all 91 species would face the same fate as many endemic freshwater fish.

According to Nadeeka Hapuarachchi, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the freshwater fish were the most widely traded wild species from Sri Lanka and the severe threat faced by endemic fish included habitat degradation and water pollution by increased human activities and over exportation.

Meanwhile, ornamental fish exporters claimed that by easing the restrictions, they can recapture a larger share of the export market and use a portion of the proceeds to do work that will go much further towards protecting Sri Lankan habitats, which are under serious threat due to severe pollution.

WCD Director General, H. D. Rathnayake told The Island that the WCD had been funded to prepare rules and regulations to allow breeding and export of eight endemic, rare and protected species of freshwater fish and 13 species of freshwater plants on the instructions of the Economic Development Ministry.

Ratnayake noted that the WCD wouldn’t allow those species to be caught from their native environment.

Man arrested about to skin croc

Acting on a tip-off, the Puttalam police arrested a man who slaughtered a crocodile close to the Pawattamduwa tank.

The police said that at the time the police entered the man’s land a kilometre away from the tank, the suspect was ready to skin the nine foot long reptile, according to The Island newspaper.

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