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Living Fossils – The Island


By Dr. Anslem de Silva

6 p.m., March 24, 2022, at Jasmine Hall, BMICH

often called living fossils, crocodiles are considered one of the most successful species living on planet Earth today. They have survived, virtually unchanged, for more than 100 million years. Crocodiles are also the largest reptile in Sri Lanka, reputed to be one of the best places to view “Mugger Crocs” in all of Asia.

Recently, crocodiles have been in the headlines in Colombo and beyond, with social media doing its best to demonize these ancient creatures who just follow their instincts, one of which is to steer clear of humans. However, humans don’t always respect the crocodiles’ domain, and that’s where the trouble begins.

Who better to explain all this to us than Dr Anslem de SilvaHe is the current regional chair of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group for South Asia and Iran. For nearly 60 years he has worked extensively on the reptiles and amphibians of Sri Lanka and has to his credit nearly 500 publications on various aspects of herpetology – including nearly 60 books and chapters in prestigious publications. (some published in the UK). & India).

In 2013, he organized the World Crocodile Conference in Negombo. In the same year, he published a comprehensive 254-page book on Sri Lankan crocodiles. He has also published dozens of research articles about them. He conducted the first island-wide survey of human-crocodile conflict, including crocodile burrows. In 2007, he was a consultant for the WWF/American Red Cross Partnership on Crocodile Conflict in the Nilwala River, around Matara. In 2018, he was also a consultant for the development of an “Action Plan for the Mitigation of Human-Crocodile Conflict in the Andaman Islands”, prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India. Currently he is working on the ‘Mugger Crocodile’Crocodylus palustris Condition survey and conservation action plan for IUCN/CSG.

In 2019, in recognition of his contributions to herpetology and conservation, the IUCN/SSC awarded Dr. De Silva its highest honor, the Sir Peter Scott Award for Merit in Conservationthe first and only Sri Lankan to receive this honour.

During his lecture, Dr. De Silva will address the following points:

1. Crocodiles in the archeology and history of Sri Lanka.

2. Traditional techniques for treating wounds sustained in crocodile attacks, including a “charm” to protect against crocodile attacks, dating back to the 14and Century

3. Identification of the different species in Sri Lanka and their behavior, including interesting accounts of their communal fishing techniques and “crocodile houses” (S.’Kimbulgewal’).

4. The human-crocodile conflict; is a serious problem that is often not adequately addressed. This includes tips for escaping the ‘grip’ of a crocodile, should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being attacked by a crocodile!

5. The importance of crocodiles: how crocodile blood is used to treat anaemia, produce the strongest antibiotics and many other aspects of their importance, including the crucial role they play in maintaining the natural balance of the ecosystems in which they live. in.

The monthly WNPS conference is supported by the Nations Trust Bank. We are happy to resume our physical conference at BMICH while continuing Zoom and FB live for the benefit of members connecting from across the island and the world.

The conference is open to members and non-members. Free entry, we ask members to follow all health and safety requirements at BMICH