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14th June 1998

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Junior Times

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Hello Children,

Did you know that some of the animals we love to go and see at the zoo are in danger of being extinct? Animals such as elephants, tigers, baboons and the rhinocerous may end up being animals of the past like dinosaurs if measures are not taken to safeguard them. Due to man's greed for money most of these animals are killed for their valuable tusks, skins and horns.

When you read this you may think that you're young and that there is not much you can do. But if you are firm and make a stand not to buy things made ivory and animal skin however beautiful and tempting they maybe you'll be doing your part to protect them. Get the details of these animals who are in danger, so that you can enlighten any of your friends who do not know.

Until next week,

Aunty Sunshine

Animals in Danger!

Sri Lanka is rich in wild life. It is one of our greatest natural resources. Our fauna consists of animals, birds and reptiles.

Today animal life both on land and in water are subject to danger all around the world. The main danger to animal life is the increasing need by man. People use animals to do their tests for medical research, cosmetics and food. When forests are cleared for agriculture and for human settlements, animals have to face death or leave their natural habitats.

The most important animal in our jungle is the elephant, the elephant population is dwindling due to the clearing of jungles. Sometimes people kill them when they come to destroy their crops and also people kill elephants for their tusks for ivory. Due to various reasons there are just about 2000 elephants in our jungles today. Wild animals like leopards and tigers are hunted and killed by people to get their skin. The tiger population which amounted to hundred thousand has dwindled to about 5000 now.

The baboon and the rhinocerous are two important animals, which are in danger. The rhino is killed for it's horn, which are used for medical purposes. The polar bear which lives in the arctic regions is also dwindling in numbers. The blue whale which is the largest animals is killed for food and raw meterials. Intelligent animals such as dolphins will soon be extinct because fishermen kill them. Dolphins help lost seamen to find their way home.

There are various reptiles in our country. The largest is the python. They are venomous snakes such as the obra, spitting viper etc. The rat snake which is commonly seen in every part of the country is a harmless snake.

We have over 300 varieties of birds in our jungles. Most of them are seen in the bird sanctuary named Kumana in the eastern part of Sri Lanka. The most beautiful bird is the peacock. People kill them for their beautiful feathers.

First of all we should see whether it is right to kill animals for our needs. To begin with animals who are used for medical and scientific research die cruelly and painfully. As an animal lover I find this extremely sad and depressing. On the other hand some of this research is extremely essential for human beings. So for these, the researcher can use computers instead of animals.

However, I think killing animals for human needs should be banned, after all humans should learn to share the world with other living beings. We too can help by not buying products which have been tested on animals such as cosmetics.

Most countries have banned killing of animlas such as elephants, leopards, turtles, crocodiles, rhinos etc. They have international organizations to preserve wildlife. The elephant orphanage at Pinnawala helps to protect stray elephants.

Wildlife is the greatest tourists attraction for over hundreds of years. Since animal life is part of nature, it is man's duty to protect it.

Harshini Rasangika Denesh

Royal Institute

Colombo 5


Tribute to a Leader

What is peace? Peace is not merely a negative thing - the absence of one set of people trying to kill another set of people. No doubt, the prevention of war is a necessary factor for peace; but peace, believe me, is something much more positive than that; for peace in its true sense, means human understanding, human friendship and co-operation, out of which, indeed, peace in its true form alone can rise."

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister (1899-1959)
The Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) built in the memory of Prime Minister Bandaranaike celebrated its silver jubilee recently. An outright gift from the Government and people of the People's Republic of China it was a tribute to the memory of the great leader who advocated the five principles of co-existence, popularly known as Pancha Sila. The complex is dedicated to the promotion of peace, understanding and co-operation through dissemination of knowledge.

On the day the building was handed over to the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike on 17th May 1973, a 15 cent stamp issued. It featured the BMICH with an inset of Prime Minister Bandaranaike.

The hall soon became a popular location and today serves as a meeting place for conferences, seminars and exhibitions both at national and international level. When Colombo was selected as the venue for the Twentieth Commonwealth Parliamentary conference, BMICH was the venue. An 85 cent stamp was issued to mark the occasion and it featured the BMICH with the Conference logo on the left-hand corner. The conference of Heads of States and Governments of the Non-Aligned Nations in August 1976 was a historic occasion when world leaders met at the BMICH.

Built at a cost of Rs. 35 million at the time it was constructed, it took just two and a half years to complete the work. The first sod was cut on 24th November 1970. Pieter Keuneman was the Minister of Housing and Construction at the time.

BMICH consists of four blocks. The imposing octagonal shaped building right in front, consists of the main assembly hall, delegates lounge, banquet hall and press lounge. Block 2 consists of 90 office rooms for delegations. Block 3 is an area of committee rooms and Block 4 houses the residential and secretarial area.

The Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) inaugurated on 9th December 1974 at the BMICH Complex, had endeavoured to create among Sri Lankans awareness and knowledge of international issues and problems from national and regional perspectives. Diplomas and post-graduate diplomas are awarded by the Centre, which also conducts foreign language courses such as Chinese, Japanese, French, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and German.

The Bandaranaike Museum in the Complex is a popular place among school children and other visitors, particularly from the outstations, to whom the BMICH has become a stop in a day's outing in Colombo.

nature watchCommunication and intelligence

Animals do not have to be taught to do most things. They have an inborn ability to find the right food and protect themselves from danger. This ability is called instinct. Many animals live entirely by following their instincts. Virtually all the invertebrates and several groups of vertebrates simply react to what is going on around them.


A large number of animals have the ability to learn. One basic way of learning is by "trial and error". If an animal tries to do something and fails, it will try again.

Animals can also learn by watching and copying others They may also be taught how to do things. Young animals will be taught many skills by their parents. They also learn from each other.

Many animals, such as dogs, can be trained to perform tricks or to do things they would not do in the wild. Dogs learn quickly when rewarded. They have good memories and are very reliable.


Some animals have the ability to figure out how to do things. This ability is known as reasoning. Animals that have the ability to reason are considered to be intelligent. Intelligence varies greatly among animals. An experiment with octopuses has shown that they are capable of solving simple problems. If an octopus sees a crab inside a covered glass jar, it will try to take the cover off and get the crab out and eat it.

Sea gulls cannot break the shells of cockles and mussels with their beaks. They have learned to fly up and drop the shells onto rocks.

Some birds and animals like chimpanzees and man use objects to help them solve problems.

A finch from the Galapagos Islands uses a cactus spine to pick insects out of holes in the bark of trees. Chimpanzees can solve more complex problems like placing several boxes on top of each other to climb on in order to reach a bunch of bananas.

Only man has the ability to work out really difficult problems such as building a machine like a computer to help solve his problems.


Communication is the passing of information from one animal to another. The information may be just the identity and sex of the individual or an indication of its mood and intentions.

Virtually all animals communicate in some way with both the members of their own species and with other species.

Animals communicate for a number of different reasons. Members of th same species will warn each other if there is danger. They will also exchange information about food and show when they are ready to mate.

Animal languages

Animals communicate in two ways. Information is passed from one animal to another by the way it acts. The messages it sends are referred to as "active" or "behavioural mesages". When they provide information about themselves without actually doing anything, the messages are said to be "passive" or "non-behavioural" messages.

Non-behavioural messages

The physical appearance of an animal will provide some information. Its shape, colour, markings and size identify the animal as belonging to a particular species. They may also indicate its social rank.

Within each species there are often physical differences between males and females. These differences may be noticeable only when the individuals are sexually mature.

Many animals have a characteristic smell. These are often produced by special scent glands which secrete a smelly liquid. These secretions are used by animals to mark their territory and even each other. The scent may be slightly different for each family or group within the larger population.

During the breeding season animals may also use their scent to attract and excite their mate.

Behavioural messages

Behavioural messages are much more complicated than non-behavioural messages. Everything an animal does will communicate some kind of information.

Most of these "active" messages may indicate either how an animal feels or that he is about to act in some way. The information may be expressed either as signals or displays.

In all forms of communication the information must be received and understood. The interpretation of messages involves one or more of the senses.

Animals can use most parts of their bodies when they communicate.

For many vertebrates the head is the most important part of the body. The use of facial expression is the way most mammals show how they are feeling. They are usually able to recognize different moods even in species other than their own.

The ability to make noises is one of the most important means of communication. It allows animals to pass messages without seeing each other.

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