12 Jun වනஜீவிYO
When everyone is complaining of life, here they are all silently facing barriers to a smooth life which they do not deserve. They are of hundreds and thousands, yet are left unnoticed just because they are speechless. Maybe the potential of addressing every single issue is not achieved, but yes we do owe them to make a difference in their lives towards their betterment. Who the 'THEY' are? Well, 'they' are the diverse fauna all around us. Deep in the woods, high up on the trees, in the foamy blue waters, even at our doorstep, and where not! Project වනஜீவிYO being diverse as its name itself did not miss to cover all genres to its maximum and hold on your breath while we dive into it!
Environmental Service Avenue which never fails to have a variety in its projects did not miss to continue the colourfulness here either. Partnering up with the Rotaract Club of Royal Institute project වනஜீவிYO held its spotlight on four diverse creature namely, the Fishing cat, Birds, Turtles, and Dogs. Two phases each led by the two clubs indeed increased the variety of the buffet and here’s the phases through their sights.
Project වනஜீவிYO started off with the first phase 'The Beddagana Park' - A visit to the Beddagana Wetland Park. It was a sunny morning on the 24th of March, 2022. Members arrived at the Park ready to explore and learn some insights about this wetland and mainly the furry cat hidden deep in the woods – the Fishing Cats. The visit started off with an officer from the wetland giving us an insight into this wetland. As much as we wanted to look focused and interested in what she was saying, focusing on a lecture was not our strongest point. The walk through the park was the most interesting. For a minute we forgot that we existed in Colombo being covered by the lush scenic greenery and the wind blowing gently among us. There were two officials from the Small Cat Advocacy Organization who joined us to provide an insight of the existence of fishing cats in this wetland and this much unspoken creature of the cat family was exceptionally a night bird. The animal was been observed by the authority in order to conserve them and their habitat. While the educational tour went on there were many other couples engaging on a romantic tour of their own. It was kind of obvious that their tours were respectfully wrecked, nothing intensional you know. After a fun day of exploration and learnings of a cute yet wild cat, the never missed group picture in an aesthetic background was taken before wrapping up. Then into the next phase…
Everyone deserves a sweet home and do these fluttering wings! 'The Home' phase two of the project was all about creating wonderful shelters to a variety of birds including house sparrows, owls, magpies, paddy birds, and spotted doves using areca palm trunk, and wooden planks that turned into homes out of the expertise of the 'to become professors' (With the doubt whether they really intend to become). The boys of the crew kind of became experts in making bird nests eventually, where they were even capable of having nest making sessions for birds itself. Not to miss the girl gang who assisted them by polishing and painting. The boys did help them out there as well to be frank. (But that's just minor stuff). Then comes the hardest of the hardest. After days of hard work and loads of effort put in creating these wonderful nests, 15 clay pot nests, 6 areca palm trunk nests, 6 wooden bird house nests for birds, and 5 clay pots for bees were ready to be placed high up on the trees on the 23rd of May 2022 in the Wetland Park with the guidance of the Park in charge. The trees spoken here are not the normal trees you and I climb, but are massive ones that conquered the jungles. All credits to the 'Karamu Bng' Galle boys for climbing those despite the risk and hardship. 'The Home' was all about increasing the attraction of birds and familiarizing human and bird interaction which has been reduced in recent times due to urbanization and environmental factors. Moreover, the mental satisfaction gained by being surrounded by such adorable creatures was another key factor that was highlighted under the phase. Apart from this bees who are interconnected with the environment specially around birds were too given 5 shelters to nest in. This has been the very first time of such an initiative to take place in Sri Lanka which is also considered to be an experiment for other wider aspects such as increase of nesting, increase of population, etc. The phase was successfully completed with the bliss of providing these little wings with a shelter that was also wanted by many others to take home as well.
‘The Rescue’ - the third phase of the project had the most mesmerizing moments out of all the phases and for sure none would deny this. The 25th of May 2022 commenced with everyone's excitement off to the rescue of little Turtles. Starting the journey from a salmon packed train and upto ending it back in a late night bus the day was full of content. Once arrived at the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Centre the excitement and amusement that were overwhelming in the hearts of everyone seeing little Turtles at the peak of cuteness and the massive ones that swam with majesty could be seen on the faces of all. Since the release needed to happen during the sunset, all the remaining time was utilized effectively by taking scenic pictures that were beautified with the faces of members who thought that was the case. Also, not to miss the all time fun factor - the TikTok video where everyone hopped in with some dance movement or at least walked across. Finally the sun was all set to get those little ones home! Amidst the hooting waves and setting sun the little feets urged to the ocean at glance of leaving them on the shore. This picture of 200+ infant turtles vanishing from sight, into the ocean indeed was a bliss that cannot be put into mere words. Yet that was not the end. The dinner table was just about satisfying hunger after a long fun filled day until speeches from heart were delivered. And that was an official heartfelt wrap up.
Eventually to the fourth and final phase of වනஜீவிYO, 'The Inoculate' which happened on the 30th of May, 2022 was carried in collaboration with the Justice for Animals Sri Lanka organization. A bunch of members headed to the Sri Lanka Land Development and Reclamation Centre in Nawala to visit around 50 dogs who took shelter there. Though there were many who were afraid of dogs, it was obvious that they mastered up the courage to stand still with dogs running in close proximity. Even though it started raining in the evening it did not stop the effort of tending to these adorable dogs. They were fed with a hearty meal of rice and meat mixed with NexGard tablets which would improve their wellness, prevent them from catching tick fever and boost their immune system. After talking to the officials it was realized how invested they are in a dog’s life. They treated them with love and respect and treated the dogs equal to humans. Hats off to Justice for Animals Sri Lanka for feeding these dogs on a daily basis and making their lives bearable. After a quick picture in the drizzling rain it was time to head back home. This was not just a bye but a goodbye for the project වනஜீவிYO.
The intention of making a life better did make Project වනஜீவிYO what it is. It was clearly depicted that not only heard problems but also unspoken ones do exist and that some problems never could be spoken unless it is sought and sorted like the four phases. The project concluded not with just making the lives of animals better, yet with satisfaction and happiness of doing so. A little reminder is that, it's just the project that marked its end and not the intention of doing more!
Rtr. Zahra Zuhri
Rtr. Himaza Hilmy
(President 2021-22 – Rotaract Club of Royal Institute)
Rtr. Dilshani Chrisendra
(Blog Team Member 2021-22)