Muthurajawela and Kanneliya, the cradle of bio-diversity
Most unluckily, we have been forced to confront the severe depletion
of nature reserves since the outset of twentieth century. It is
happening now! Sri Lanka, the small island has had a high opinion of
herself for her broad bio-diversity-her most cherished possession for a
fairly long time. Yet, now, with every second, these priceless gifts
from nature are being pushed towards a doomsday scenario.
Tragic enough, the forest cover which was 75 p.c at the beginning of
the twentieth century has gradually tapered off to a staggering 21 p.c
today in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's reservoir of forests is fast diminishing
solely as a result of rapid population growth and accelerated
One such nature reserve is Muthurajawela which is a wonderful area of
wetland placed in the suburbs of Colombo. Muthurajawela, with its high
bio-diversity and excessive natural charm is a coastal nature reserve
which roughly extends from Kelani river to the lagoon of Negombo along
the western coast of the island.
The wilderness of the wetland of Muthurajawela spans through Ja ela,
Katana, Negombo and Wattala. The 'Aththanagalu Oya' (Popularly known as
'Dandugam Oya') is the chief source of water for Muthurajawela and joins
the sea through Negombo lagoon. The freshwater of Kelani river and
Aththanagalu oya enriches the wetland and various types of plants and
animals have found the area extremely accommodating.
Almost 500 years previously, the wetland of Muthurajawela had been a
vast stretch of rich paddy fields as the legend has it. As time
progressed Muthurajawela gradually became a wetland covered with lush
vegetation. The canals constructed by the Dutch and English and
subsequent human operations have considerably narrowed the full extent
of the land. Muthurajawela had earlier accounted for a larger portion in
the Western Province.
Muthurajawela has so much promoted the natural beauty of Sri Lanka
that it is ranked high on the list of natural wetlands of Asia and is
among the top twelve wetlands of Sri Lanka. Special studies carried out
on Muthurajawela have revealed that this valuable area of wetland is
still the home for many varieties of flora and fauna indigenous to Sri
Lanka. In addition to that Muthurajawela is chiefly beautified by
marshland, patches of jungles, freshwater canals and diverse plants and
Ecologists have identified that certain plants and animals which are
endemic to Muthurajawela have easily adjusted themselves to ideal
conditions of the wetland.
The eco-system of Muthurajawela has facilitated lush vegetation
bordering the rivers and the coast. Ecological groups have discovered
that 192 varieties of special plants flourish in this particular area of
wetland. Of 60 varieties of 'Kadolana', found in the world, about 18
varieties grow well around the Lagoon of Negombo.
The World Conservationists' Association has pointed out that
Muthurajawela provides a safe haven for around 102 varieties of birds
such as parrots, falcons, hawks, kingfishers, cranes, spoon bills,
swallows, halcyons and many more.
Apart from that, the visitor gets the instant impression that
Muthurajawela is the paradise for animals such as porcupine, loris,
otter, tiger cat, mouse deer and civet cat etc.
The special monkey (Macaca sinica) which is perhaps endemic to
Muthurajawela and the water snake (Gerada privostiana) deserve exclusive
attention as they have developed strange behavioural patterns in
correspondence with their immediate surroundings. Muthurajawela is also
the abode for varieties of tortoises, lizards and snakes.
The area of wetland (Muthurajawela) possesses high potential for
being exploited for developmental targets.
Nature reserves in the Southern part of the island too are dwindling
at a terrific rate largely on account of human intervention.
In spite of the tremendous threat to natural forest reserves,
Kanneliya nature reserve in the Galle district has retained its
fascinations for the local and foreign visitor.
It is a paradise of natural beauty and higher level of bio-diversity
not only in Sri Lanka but likewise in Asia.
An icy breeze sweeping through the vast stretch of treetops makes the
visitor feel energetic or cool after he has been uncomfortably tired or
hot. Kanneliya is a wet, evergreen forest snuggly ensconced in Udugama,
Galle and is a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city of
Galle. The Gazzette notification of 1934 No. 8062 declared Kanneliya a
forest reserve and UNESCO too proclaimed it a nature reserve in 2000.
Kanneliya provides catchment and basic flood-plains for 'Gin Ganga'
and 'Nilwala Ganga' and is profusely scattered with small mountain
streams and brooks. The visitor may enjoy the spectacular views of
waterfalls when rain is in its maximum level (though it creates much
The pool of Nannikita Canal appears to be a natural reservoir which
contains extra clear, glass like water. This is one of the tourist
attractions of Kanneliya. Kanneliya nature reserve possesses beautiful
The Anagimala ella, which cascades down a slippery rocky slope with
boulders, attaches a mysterious beauty to the cold forest.
The giant vine of 'Pus' (Entada phaseloides) yet another
enigmatically beautiful creation of nature redoubles the natural
splendour of Kanneliya forest. What strikes the visitor is the cave
beneath the rock plain. A stream flows through the dark cave frequented
by a big population of bats.
The vine of 'Pus' sprawls among trees for almost a hectare and shows
that it has existed with trees for many years.
The forest museum of Kanneliya displays tools and other equipment
used by ancient people and serves as a praiseworthy educational project.
Furthermore, Kanneliya nature reserve is made special by 'Lihini
Gallena' (a cave) which bears a small brook flowing through the cave.
The 'Kabbale' mountain commands a magnificent view of the whole
Kanneliya with its evergreen forest and ranges of mountains coupled with
southern coastal belt beyond. However, the most attractive place in the
Kanneliya nature reserve is Kabbale mountain which overlooks everything
below in every direction.
Kanneliya is open for the public on all the days of the year
including the Sinhala and Tamil New Year day. Kanneliya nature reserve
and its conservation centre are equipped with everything to educate the
visitor about the bio-diversity of Sri Lanka.
Apart from that Kanneliya nature reserve is equipped with lecturers
on snakes and reptiles, lecture halls, a library and a museum.
Therefore, these nature reserves are to be exclusively protected for
They are the store houses of nature which displays its best through