The Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS) is appalled to learn that so-called birdwatchers from the Capital are visiting Mannar armed with drones, endangering the continued stay, and future migration, to this unique place of these special, rare and beautiful species of birds. Most are migrants, some flying in from thousands of miles away, to feed and breed in the hitherto haven of Mannar. Flamingoes are the most noticeable, hundreds of them, straining the briny waters for the shrimp they thrive on. However, there are many more, and almost every year, new species are recorded here; a wonder not just for local ornithologists, but those from overseas too, bringing with them much-needed foreign exchange to this country.
Even though this is in a supposed High Security Zone, it is reliably learned that these drones are flown at low altitudes to avoid detection by radar. This, of course, causes even more disturbance to the feeding birds. It has been proven that the noise, and a resemblance to aerial predators, cause great anxiety to these species. If they leave, they will never come again, a high price to pay so that the privileged few from Colombo can get their kicks.
We appeal to the relevant authorities, and to any of these drone fliers who have a conscience, to immediately stop this destructive practice. Let us not forget that when the salinity of the waters of the Bundala National Park were diluted by the diverted waters of the Lunugamvehera, the flocks of flamingoes for which it was famous, and other species, headed North. If we harass them, and the other migrants, in this way, they will head even further north, out of this country. Is this what we want for Sri Lanka?