Swift action needed to save wall from swallows

By Madhushala Senaratne and Kanchana Kumara Ariyadasa

The mirror wall of the historic Sigiriya rock fortress is being defaced not by vandals but by swallow droppings, and officials of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) are facing a dilemma on how to clean up the mess while protecting the wall and preserving the beauty of the surroundings.

CCF’s chief administrative officer G. L. W. Samarasinghe said they are studying possible methods of conserving the site adding that the task won’t be an easy one.

The problem has arisen with swallows building nests on the rock’s surface above the mirror wall.
“This happens around April to May when the swallows build their nests. Bird droppings and other waste material from the nests are blown with the wind towards the mirror wall. The problem gets aggravated on very windy days,” Mr. Samarasinghe said.

Although this problem has been recurring over the years and authorities have been cleaning the mirror wall, archaeologists now fear that continuous cleaning would damage it. They have also warned of the formation of acid over the years as a result of accumulating swallow droppings that could further damage the mirror wall.

Although many proposals have been put forward by the CCF to tackle this problem little action has been taken. “One proposal has been to build a canopy above the mirror wall but below the swallows’ nests. However this would be an eyesore,” Mr. Samarasinghe said, adding that building a canopy would involve scaling the Sigiriya rock which could be dangerous.

One other proposal was to shield the area with a glass cover, however that too hasn’t been implemented.


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