Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is the home for about 60 elephants, out of which many are baby elephants found, abandoned or orphaned in the wild. They are being cared, fed and trained by the wild life authorities. The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when one will have the opportunity of seeing the baby elephants being bottle-fed. Also could accompany the elephants to a river close-by and see the elephants having their daily bath.

It was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on a twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. In most of these cases the mother had either died or been killed. In some instances the baby had fallen into a pit and in others the mother had fallen in and died.

Initially this orphanage was at the Wilpattu National Park, then shifted to the tourist complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo. From the Zoo it was shifted to Pinnawela. At the time it was shifted the orphanage had five baby elephants which formed its nucleus. It was hoped that this facility would attract both local and foreign visitors, the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage.

In 1978 the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program launched in 1982. At Pinnawela an attempt was made to simulate, in a limited way, the conditions in the wild. Animals are allowed to roam freely during the day and a herd structure allowed to form.
The Department of National Zoological Gardens has set up an orphanage for baby elephants at Pinnawela which is about 13 Km. from Kegalle Town. on the Kegalle- Rambukkana Road.

Kegalle is 77 Km. from Colombo on the Colombo- Kandy road and the turn off to the orphanage is at the Karandupona Junction.

The orphanage was established to feed, nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their mothers. Often the young ones fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water during drought period. Other inmates at the orphanage are those displaced from their natural environs by development projects or those found diseased or wounded.

The orphanage is 16 years old. The animals that were brought during the initial years are now capable of breeding and have in fact bred.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage 90Kms (On Rambukkana Road) Tel: 035-65804

The first birth at Pinnawela was in 1984, a female, to Vijaya and Kumar who were aged 21 and 20 years respectively at the time of the birth. Initially the breeding animals consisted of males Vijaya and Neela and females Kumari, Anusha, Mathalie and Komali. The father of the first three calves born at Pinnawela was Vijaya. It was not possible to determine the father of the new calves since many males used to mate with the females anoestrus. Now through DNA fingerprinting the fathers of three have definitely been identified. Vijaya and Kumari have produced three calves at intervals of five and four years. In 1993 Vijaya and Kumari were 30 and 29years respectively. Upto the middle of 1998 there have been fourteen births, eight males and six females at Pinnawela.

Elephants in Yala
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park Situated 309 km. south of Colombo, Yala is approximately 1,259 in extent and is located in the southeastern corner of the island. Its northern boundaries border on the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and it has the added bonus of a scenic ocean frontage.

The terrain is varied flat plains alternating with rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. Water holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. The specialty here is the large numbers of elephants.

Life Style of Elephants
Elephant is the star of Sri Lanka’s wild life and the largest land animal in the island. among the two verities of African elephants (elephas coxenda) and Indian elephants (elephas maximize maximize), in Sri Lanka you find Indian elephants and considered to be intelligent than their African counterparts hence domesticated.

Although there have been about 36000 elephants with the start of this century it has reduced up to about 2000 due to pouching. according to the recent records about 2000 of them scattered all over the country in small pockets and about 500 of them are domesticated.

  is dedicated to help these endangered species and has sofa become a success. Also few National parks like “Udawalawe”, “Lahugala” are mainly reserved for wild elephants. Major attraction of is wild elephants.

Any given time you can see large number of baby elephants and female elephants. In a herd you always find female elephants and sometimes herds of male elephants too could be seen. in case babies are looked after by mother, aunt or another female elephants and male elephants are loners and never live in a group and are attracted in to a group during the mating season (from September to October) only and most of the parks are closed for visitors during this period.Their average height (height is measured to the shoulder) goes to about 8 feet (2.5m) and 1800 Kg in weight and consume about 200 kg of foliage and grass per day and plenty of water for drinking and bathing.

Female elephants give a birth once in 4 years and 2-3 babies in their life span. get 4 sets of teeth and every 10 years a new set of teeth is coming to get the last set when they are about 40 years old. walk about 20 miles per day and young female elephants are reedy for mating when they are 13 years old. very active in the night and most of them sleep under large trees in the day time. only a few tuskers can be seen in Sri Lanka due to brutal killings to get their tusks due to high value. However new laws has introduced to protect them and let tomorrow's people too see them.

Some people believe that they have grave yards and come near to a water resource when they are about to die…some do not believe it and say ..when they are old their teeth are wasted and difficulty of consuming heavy branches of trees made them come to a place where there is grass and water.

Elephants & Festivals
Esala Perahera For two weeks at the end of July and in to the first few day's of august, the hill own of Kandy is transformed to the way it was before it fell to the British in 815. Elephants parade the street at night, officials and chieftains wear traditional costume and dancers leap to the timeless rhythm of the drums. It is known as one of the world's grandest and most spectacular street parades.

It is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera when people give thanks in song, dance and pageantry for a bountiful harvest. Esala also signifies man's strength and velour in having conquered and tamed the wild elephant.

The significance of this perahera dates to 310 AD when the tooth relic was brought from India. Before then there was an annual procession to pay tribute for the harvest and to ask the gods for sufficient water for the next crop. Asking for water is still the main reason for the Esala Perahera and is way the chief lay official of the temple of the Tooth is called the Diyawadana Nilame for diya is the sinhala for water. the last ritual of the perahera is the water cutting ceremony.

On the night before the perahera begins, the dancers and drummers gather together and rehearse. In ancient times it was the barber, or pannikaya, who show to the costumes of each participant. While the title remain, the pannikya who personally checks everything. From the sending of the postcards asking the dancers and drummers to come, to seeing them off after the celebrations, Chief Pannikya and the four other pannikyas from the four devales (shrines) are responsible for all the arrangements, under the Diyawadana Nilame. The perahera itself begins only after the tooth temple astrologer has charted the coures of the planets and determined the Nekath Welawa. the auspicious time. When studying the course of the planets, he bears in mind that it is customary to end the perahera on Nikini poya day, the full moon day of August.Before the perahera start there is the kap hituweema ceremony. A kap ruka is a celestial tree that bestows anything wished for. only a few are witness to the ceremony when a 45cm - long piece of wood obtained from a jak tree is planted according to custom in the ground of each of the four shrines. jak is a tree whose fruit is sometimes used as a substitute for rice in a villager's diet.

Air Pollution Causes and Effects

Air Pollution Causes and Effects

Humans probably first experienced harm from air pollution when they built fires in poorly ventilated caves. Since then we have gone on to pollute more of the earth's surface. Until recently, environmental pollution problems have been local and minor because of the Earth's own ability to absorb and purify minor quantities of pollutants. The industrialization of society, the introduction of motorized vehicles, and the explosion of the population, are factors contributing toward the growing air pollution problem. At this time it is urgent that we find methods to clean up the air.
The primary air pollutants found in most urban areas are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter (both solid and liquid). These pollutants are dispersed throughout the world's atmosphere in concentrations high enough to gradually cause serious health problems. Serious health problems can occur quickly when air pollutants are concentrated, such as when massive injections of sulfur dioxide and suspended particulate matter are emitted by a large volcanic eruption.
Air Pollution in the Home
You cannot escape air pollution, not even in your own home. "In 1985 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that toxic chemicals found in the air of almost every American home are three times more likely to cause some type of cancer than outdoor air pollutants". (Miller 488) The health problems in these buildings are called "sick building syndrome". "An estimated one-fifth to one-third of all U.S. buildings are now considered "sick". (Miller 489) The EPA has found that the air in some office buildings is 100 times more polluted than the air outside. Poor ventilation causes about half of the indoor air pollution problems. The rest come from specific sources such as copying machines, electrical and telephone cables, mold and microbe-harboring air conditioning systems and ducts, cleaning fluids, cigarette smoke, carpet, latex caulk and paint, vinyl molding, linoleum tile, and building materials and furniture that emit air pollutants such as formaldehyde. A major indoor air pollutant is radon-222, a colorless, odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the radioactive decay of uranium-238. "According to studies by the EPA and the National Research Council, exposure to radon is second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer".

Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the major pollutants in the atmosphere. Major sources of CO2 are fossil fuels burning and deforestation. "The concentrations of CO2 in the air around 1860 before the effects of industrialization were felt, is assumed to have been about 290 parts per million (ppm). In the hundred years and more since then, the concentration has increased by about 30 to 35 ppm that is by 10 percent". (Breuer 67) Industrial countries account for 65% of CO2 emissions with the United States and Soviet Union responsible for 50%. Less developed countries (LDCs), with 80% of the world's people, are responsible for 35% of CO2 emissions but may contribute 50% by 2020. "Carbon dioxide emissions are increasing by 4% a year". (Miller 450)
In 1975, 18 thousand million tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to 5 thousand million tons of carbon) were released into the atmosphere, but the atmosphere showed an increase of only 8 billion tons (equivalent to 2.2 billion tons of carbon". (Breuer 70) The ocean waters contain about sixty times more CO2 than the atmosphere. If the equilibrium is disturbed by externally increasing the concentration of CO2 in the air, then the oceans would absorb more and more CO2.  If the oceans can no longer keep pace, then more CO2 will remain into the atmosphere. As water warms, its ability to absorb CO2 is reduced.
CO2 is a good transmitter of sunlight, but partially restricts infrared radiation going back from the earth into space. This produces the so-called greenhouse effect that prevents a drastic cooling of the Earth during the night. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reinforces this effect and is expected to result in a warming of the Earth's surface. Currently carbon dioxide is responsible for 57% of the global warming trend. Nitrogen oxides contribute most of the atmospheric contaminants.

N0X - nitric oxide (N0) and nitrogen dioxide (N02)
  • Natural component of the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Important in the formation of both acid precipitation and photochemical smog (ozone), and causes nitrogen loading.
  • Comes from the burning of biomass and fossil fuels.
  • 30 to 50 million tons per year from human activities, and natural 10 to 20 million tons per year.
  • Average residence time in the atmosphere is days.
  • Has a role in reducing stratospheric ozone.
N20 - nitrous oxide
  • Natural component of the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Important in the greenhouse effect and causes nitrogen loading.
  • Human inputs 6 million tons per year, and 19 million tons per year by nature.
  • Residence time in the atmosphere about 170 years.
  • 1700 (285 parts per billion), 1990 (310 parts per billion), 2030 (340 parts per billion).
  • Comes from nitrogen based fertilizers, deforestation, and biomass burning.

Sulfur and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Sulfur dioxide is produced by combustion of sulfur-containing fuels, such as coal and fuel oils. Also, in the process of producing sulfuric acid and in metallurgical process involving ores that contain sulfur. Sulfur oxides can injure man, plants and materials. At sufficiently high concentrations, sulfur dioxide irritates the upper respiratory tract of human beings because potential effect of sulfur dioxide is to make breathing more difficult by causing the finer air tubes of the lung to constrict. "Power plants and factories emit 90% to 95% of the sulfur dioxide and 57% of the nitrogen oxides in the United States. Almost 60% of the SO2 emissions are released by tall smoke stakes, enabling the emissions to travel long distances". (Miller 494) As emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide from stationary sources are transported long distances by winds, they form secondary pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, nitric acid vapor, and droplets containing solutions of sulfuric acid, sulfate, and nitrate salts. These chemicals descend to the earth's surface in wet form as rain or snow and in dry form as a gases fog, dew, or solid particles. This is known as acid deposition or acid rain.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
CFCs are lowering the average concentration of ozone in the stratosphere. "Since 1978 the use of CFCs in aerosol cans has been banned in the United States, Canada, and most Scandinavian countries. Aerosols are still the largest use, accounting for 25% of global CFC use". (Miller 448) Spray cans, discarded or leaking refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, and the burning plastic foam products release the CFCs into the atmosphere. Depending on the type, CFCs stay in the atmosphere from 22 to 111 years. Chlorofluorocarbons move up to the stratosphere gradually over several decades. Under high energy ultra violet (UV) radiation, they break down and release chlorine atoms, which speed up the breakdown of ozone (O3) into oxygen gas (O2).
Chlorofluorocarbons, also known as Freons, are greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Photochemical air pollution is commonly referred to as "smog". Smog, a contraction of the words smoke and fog, has been caused throughout recorded history by water condensing on smoke particles, usually from burning coal. With the introduction of petroleum to replace coal economies in countries, photochemical smog has become predominant in many cities, which are located in sunny, warm, and dry climates with many motor vehicles. The worst episodes of photochemical smog tend to occur in summer.


Photochemical smog is also appearing in regions of the tropics and subtropics where savanna grasses are periodically burned. Smog's unpleasant properties result from the irradiation by sunlight of hydrocarbons caused primarily by unburned gasoline emitted by automobiles and other combustion sources. The products of photochemical reactions includes organic particles, ozone, aldehydes, ketones, peroxyacetyl nitrate, organic acids, and other oxidants. Ozone is a gas created by nitrogen dioxide or nitric oxide when exposed to sunlight. Ozone causes eye irritation, impaired lung function, and damage to trees and crops. Another form of smog is called industrial smog.
This smog is created by burning coal and heavy oil that contain sulfur impurities in power plants, industrial plants, etc... The smog consists mostly of a mixture of sulfur dioxide and fog. Suspended droplets of sulfuric acid are formed from some of the sulfur dioxide, and a variety of suspended solid particles. This smog is common during the winter in cities such as London, Chicago, Pittsburgh. When these cities burned large amounts of coal and heavy oil without control of the output, large-scale problems were witnessed. In 1952 London, England, 4,000 people died as a result of this form of fog. Today coal and heavy oil are burned only in large boilers and with reasonably good control or tall smokestacks so that industrial smog is less of a problem. However, some countries such as China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and some other eastern European countries, still burn large quantities of coal without using adequate controls.
Pollution Damage to Plants
With the destruction and burning of the rain forests more and more CO2 is being released into the atmosphere. Trees play an important role in producing oxygen from carbon dioxide. "A 115 year old Beech tree exposes about 200,000 leaves with a total surface to 1200 square meters. During the course of one sunny day such a tree inhales 9,400 liters of carbon dioxide to produce 12 kilograms of carbohydrate, thus liberating 9,400 liters of oxygen. Through this mechanism about 45,000 liters of air are regenerated which is sufficient for the respiration of 2 to 3 people". (Breuer 1) This process is called photosynthesis which all plants go though but some yield more and some less oxygen. As long as no more wood is burnt than is reproduced by the forests, no change in atmospheric CO2 concentration will result.
Pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and peroxyacl nitrates (PANs), cause direct damage to leaves of crop plants and trees when they enter leaf pores (stomates). Chronic exposure of leaves and needles to air pollutants can also break down the waxy coating that helps prevent excessive water loss and damage from diseases, pests, drought and frost. "In the midwestern United States crop losses of wheat, corn, soybeans, and peanuts from damage by ozone and acid deposition amount to about $5 billion a year". (Miller 498)