Funday Times

2010 International Year of Biodiversity
By Malaka Rodrigo

It was Christmas. Puncha and Panchie got up early and rushed to their Christmas tree to see what Santa had brought them. To their joy, there were two gifts hanging on the Christmas tree wrapped in bright, shiny papers. They couldn't wait for Amma and Thaththa, so they jumped and picked up the gifts. "It is a magnifying glass", shouted Panchie looking at Aiya through her treasured gift. Puncha had taken a longer time to open his gift box. "Mine is a binocular…" Puncha shouted louder than his sister.

Both were joyous about the gifts they received. "Aiya, there is a note attached to my gift," said Panchie. Searching the bottom of the box, Puncha too found his note.

Both notes said "A gift to explore biodiversity around you in 2010, signed by Santa". "Biodiversity..? What is it Aiya?" questioned Panchie. Even Puncha was not too sure.

"Biodiversity means different kinds of living beings around us." Both Aiya and Nangie looked back toward the unexpected voice. "Hey..!! You two… MERRY CHRISTMAS..!!" It was their Professor Uncle who came to greet them for Christmas. Puncha and Panchie ran and showed their gifts and the note to their uncle.

"Hmm… Not bad items to explore biodiversity," said uncle with a wink. "Come let's go to the

He stopped near a line of red ants. "Panchie, take your magnifying glass and look at them closely," uncle said. "Wow..!! The ants look so big when looked at through the magnifying glass. They are all red and have two antenna on their head." Panchie observed the ants closely.

Different ants & different birds

"Professor Uncle.. Professor Uncle… There is a different coloured ant. It is all black and goes
slowly," she shouted excitedly. "Yes, that is what we call diversity. Even among ants you can find that different varieties differ in colour, size or the way they behave. That is part of the
biodiversity," explained Professor Uncle.

Using his new binoculars, Puncha too started his observations and already spotted four different kinds of birds. "I saw a crow, a yellow bird, a polkichcha and a bird that has a tail like a fish", said Puncha. "Yes, that is another example of differences between animal species.

Birds differ from ants, but birds among themselves too are different." Now Puncha and Panchie are getting to know what biodiversity is and they are happy about Santa's gift. "Do you know that
we - humans too are part of Earth's biodiversity..?" asked Professor Uncle. Puzzled Puncha and Panchie looked at themselves. "Yes, like there are different varieties of birds, insects, plants and reptiles – we are also part of life on earth belonging to the mammal category, that grow by feeding on milk from their mother."

2010: Year of Biodiversity

"Do you know that 2010 is called the Year of Biodiversity..?" Professor Uncle explained why Santa would have decided to give these special gifts to Puncha and Panchie." Because bad people destroy forests and pollute the environment, animals that live in them become homeless and ultimately die. So we need to protect these places and next year is declared as the 'International Year of Biodiversity' to start activities to save the places where animals live in."

"Uncle, can't we do something to protect biodiversity..?" asked Puncha. "Yes, why not… If each of us does our part, animals will not loose their homes. Hmm… do you really want to do something to protect our biodiversity..?" asked their uncle again. "Yes, yes… We need to do something to welcome the Year of Biodiversity", shouted both Puncha and Panchie enthusiastically.

Walking to his car, Professor Uncle brought a box full of little plants. "Here, is a little sapling that you can plant on January 1, 2010 to welcome the Year of Biodiversity. This will grow bigger and provide shelter to
butterflies, birds, ants and other insects. It will even give fruits for you to eat. "You can give the
additional plants to your friends or plant in your school", said Professor uncle.

Both Puncha and Panchie are now waiting until 2010 dawns to plant the sapling to welcome the Year of Biodiversity.

Say 'Hi' to the Year of Biodiversity

Kids, we have only 4 more days to welcome 2010. But do you know that it is going to be a very
special year..? Yes, you heard it right. Year 2010 is named as the International Year of Biodiversity.

Your friends Puncha and Panchie are going to plant a small sapling on January 1 to welcome the Year of Biodiversity. You too can do the same. Write to Funday Times on what you have done to welcome 2010 – the Year of Biodiversity.

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