The 7th July 2012 was a very special day for Rathambalagama School. The teachers and some of the students of the Environment Society were just about to experience something new in their life – A TROPICAL RAIN FOREST! They were preparing to visit Sinharaja, a UNESCO World Heritage Site http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/405/ about 130km away from Rathambalagama. Born Free Sri Lanka volunteers had given a brief introduction to the students on Sinharaja the day before - they discussed what to look at in the rain forest and studied how to make field notes.
Everyone was ready by 4.30am on the 7th. The bus took a long, windy road through mountains and tea estates, and a few stops were made on the way for refreshment and rest. The students saw the change in vegetation structure along altitude in Southern Sri Lanka and they didn’t forget to take pictures and enjoy the surroundings on the way. It was nearly mid-day when they reached the forest, and the excursion started straight away.
Born Free volunteers explained almost everything they knew about Sinharaja to the students of Rathambalagama. Their checklist of birds exceeded 60 at the end of the day! Students also studied about mammals, reptiles, fish and butterflies of Sinharaja. They compared and differentiated between rainforests and dry evergreen forests, which they live around. The day was rainy, while back in Rathambalagama it was the dry spell. The students enjoyed the cool and the damp throughout the excursion, despite the disturbance of blood-sucking leeches.
Two weeks later the students gathered at the School Environmental Society and shared findings from the Sinharaja Visit with their friends. A short documentary on another rain forest in Sri Lanka (Kanneliya Forest Reserve, very close to Sinharajah) was screened on the day. Students then happily discussed their expectations with the Environmental Society with Born Free – now they have even more plans for the future!
Born Free Sri Lanka appreciates the commitment of Gayan Wijethunga and Marlon Bjorns and financial assistance by Walk with Jith in this event.