Diploma in Wildlife Management Awards Ceremony 2019
On the 18th of July 2019, twenty-seven Wildlife rangers were awarded with the Diploma in Wildlife Management at the University of Colombo under the patronage of the Vice Chancellor, Senior Professor Chandrika N Wijeyaratne. At the awards ceremony, six officers received medals for the special competency shown during the diploma course.
The ceremony celebrated the successful completion of a comprehensive course of theoretical and practical knowledge required in managing the protected areas of Sri Lanka conducted by the University of Colombo, funded by the World Bank under the Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP). The course included the field skills as well as new technological knowledge that could be used effectively in wildlife management, facilitated by many experts in the field. Professor Nihal Dayawansa of University of Colombo was the coordinator of the Diploma making sure that the rangers received the maximum from the course, organizing every aspect of it.
The Chief Guest for the event was Senior Professor Lakshman Dissanayake, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo, while the Guest of Honor was Mr. S. Hettiarachchi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs. From among the twenty-seven diplomates of the day, six had received distinction passes with sixteen receiving merit passes. Gold medals, silver medals and a bronze medal were awarded to six diplomates based on their competency by the council of University of Colombo, under the recommendation of the senate. Senior Professor Chandrika Wijeyaratne, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo awarded the medals to the recipients. The medals commemorated the immense service of past wildlife rangers as well as imminent personalities to the field of wildlife management.
Mr. C W Nicholas Memorial Gold medal for Diploma in Wildlife Management 2018 celebrated the first warden of the Department of Wildlife who believed in the importance of public involvement to wildlife protection. He had recognized the concepts such as Minimum viable population long before it was introduced. The medal was awarded to the best student of the Diploma, Mr. B G M C Bandara. Mr. H K C Kumarasinghe Memorial Silver medal for Diploma in Wildlife Management 2018 was received by 2 recipients, namely Mr. D P Sanjeewa and Mr. W M D S Wickramasinghe. Late Mr. Kumarasinghe was a brave, Wildlife Ranger Officer who sacrificed his life for wildlife protection in an encounter with poachers. He had been entitled to the award that year before unfortunately passing away while protecting the wildlife of the country. Hence the award now recognizes his sacrifice to the field. An expert in human elephant conflict and serving the wildlife for 40 years, Mr. K. Mansoor had received his Diploma in Wildlife Management in 1997. He had led his life saving many wild elephants and had unfortunately passed away in field operation. Mr. K A U Kumaratunge was the recipient of Mr. K. Mansoor Memorial Bronze Medal for Diploma in Wildlife management 2018.
In addition to the hard work and dedicated service of the wildlife rangers, there are many personalities who have done valuable services to the field of wildlife management. mong such contributions, Emeritus Professor S W Kotagama is a name that cannot be forgotten. He has contributed to ornithology, wildlife biology and environmental conservation in Sri Lanka and has been recognized at many levels for his services. He was one of the vibrant personalities the Department of Wildlife Conservation has had and a pioneer of the National Wildlife Training Centre in Giritale. Recognizing his outstanding contributions, the Emeritus Professor S W Kotagama award for the best field performance was awarded to Mr. M R Perera. Mr. W A M J Wijesinghe was awarded with the Senior Professor Lakshman Dissanayake Gold Medal for the best research project which was named to honour Prof. Dissanayake’s continued support and emphasis in incorporating research into the course. He had been acclaimed worldwide for research and is known for highlighting the importance of research for achieving high standards.
Only 13% of the landcover in Sri Lanka (DWC) is now reserved for wildlife. It is a resource that helps us stand unique in the world while bringing in a substantial income to the country. Wildlife rangers play an important role in protecting these lands. The Diploma in Wildlife Management is a special course conducted by the University of Colombo to strengthen this very limited human capital of wildlife rangers of the Department of Wildlife conservation, funded by the World bank through ESCAMP for effective management of wildlife. The facilitators of the course, the coordinator, Prof. Dayawansa, Vice Chancellor and University of Colombo, Director General and the Department of Wildlife Conservation must be commended for the efforts they take in wildlife protection of Sri Lanka in this way.
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