Thursday, January 20, 2005

Animals and Scientists

Humans in Sri Lanka were surprised that land animals did not die in large numbers. They had all gone to high ground and indeed there was play on this when it came to faulting the failures in warning systems in Sri Lanka.

On the way from Kirinda to Hambantota, we had to pass through the Bundala National Park - this is part of a network of bird sanctuaries that host the transcontinental migrants from Northern Asia in search of warmer weather in winter. Although this was the peak of winter, the usual throngs of migrant birds were not there. However, this is still an extraordinarily rich place for birds and every few minutes we kept sighting a range of birds at close range.

When we got into the park, which runs down the coast, the ranger, held us back until this lone male elephant, went away on its own. Inside we saw jackals and other birds and yes, there was no losses here except for the landscape and for the tidal flats that had been inundated by the Tsunami wave. Small changes in terrain made a big difference as to the Tsunami's impact and all this needs to be considered when hazard zonation is done. Here, we have Janaki, the Ranger, Manjula and Zeenas on top of a promontory barely 20 feet from the sea all trying to discern the sea's mystique - a place untouched by the Tsunami due to its elevation.