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Conserving Sri Lankan rivers and their invertebrates

Sri Lanka boasts a huge variety and abundance of plants and animals, particularly invertebrates – it is known as a ‘global biodiversity hotspot’.

Buglife was contacted by the Ecological Association of Sri Lanka and the University of Perideniya to see whether we could work together on the conservation of river invertebrates particularly crabs in Sri Lanka; and at the same time help address many of the problems facing Sri Lankan rivers.

Freshwater Sri Lanka crab (c) Craig Mcadam

Freshwater Sri Lanka crab (c) Craig Mcadam

Rivers in Sri Lanka are affected by a number of problems including invasive alien species and pesticides, which are regulated only for human safety. The removal of vegetation on mountains and lower slopes for agriculture results in soil running off into rivers and streams, which also makes the habitat unsuitable for the crabs.

In November 2009, two Buglife staff members visited Sri Lanka to meet with the Ecological Association of Sri Lanka, the University of Peradeniya and Government officials to plan a joint project to conserve river invertebrates in Sri Lanka and use them to assess habitat and water quality. This visit also gave us the opportunity to see the threats faced by Sri Lankan rivers and river invertebrates at first hand.

The trip was funded by the Darwin Initiative.  We are now looking for opportunities with international partners to develop freshwater invertebrate projects.