20th June 1999
Today is Fathers' Day. What have you got for your father? Well fathers are quite often neglected. It's normally the mothers that run the show. But we must never forget our dads who work so hard for us.
They are the bread winners of the family. They need all the support and encouragement you can give. So if you have not prepared for this day it's still not too late to make your dad's day special. Ask your mom what your dad really likes, it may be food, clothes or don't be surprised- it also could be flowers. Go out there and get him something small...he's sure to appreciate the gesture.
If it's food ask your mom to help make a special dish for him, light a candle and wish him a happy Fathers' Day. This will make him the happiest man alive.
Your little words and actions will make your parents very happy. So do take the trouble.
Until next time
Ten young artists between 3 and 13 years will hold an exhibition of their work at the Lionel Wendt Gallery on June 25 and 26 from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. The exhibition is aptly titled 'Impish Impressions: The World through a Child's Eye'.
Muzlina Muzamil (13), Sashan Rodrigo (12), Fatema Saifudeen (11), Anushka Fernando (10), Devaan De Z. Hallock (9), Hashan Wickremasinghe (9), Nadine Puvimanasingham (8), Nerusha de Silva (7), Natalie Anthonis (7) and Iromi Abeywardene (7) are all students of Lathifa Ismail under whose able guidance they have found great confidence.
Some of the children will also have their younger brothers and sisters assisting them . Sashan is joined by his sister Sashya (8), Devaan by his two sisters Shirelli (11) and Yanithtra (6), Hashan by his sister Amani (6) and Nerusha by her brother Novak (6) and sister Thakisha (3).
The children have been working busily these past three months preparing for the exhibition and all proceeds will go to a Army Seva Vanitha housing project for soldiers disabled in the war. A box for contributions will also be available at the exhibition.
They are either endangered or threatened
By Uncle D.C.R
From American wildlife we move on to Australia where a large number of stamps have been issued featuring animals, birds, butterflies and fish. With the Environment Week just behind us, it is timely to feature some of the stamps released in Australia under the themes 'Endangered Species' and 'Threatened Species'.
Let's see what these terms mean. To put it very simply, Endangered Species are plant and animal species which are in immediate danger of extinction. The Californian Condor is often cited as an example of a 'critically endangered species' -that cannot survive without direct human intervention.
'Threatened Species' are aplenty but these show signs of declining in total numbers. Then there is also the category of 'Rare Species', those which exist in relatively low numbers. However, these are not necessarily in immediate danger of extinction.
What do we mean by extinction? Extinction is a normal process, in the course of evolution and can happen due to several reasons. For example, there has been many an instance when species have slowly disappeared because of climatic changes. Some animals and plants also find it difficult to adapt to new conditions such as competition or threat of being attacked. The growth of human population too has had an impact on animals and plants. Then there have been changes to the natural ecosystems due to technological advances.
In recent times we have noticed how fast the world's environments have been changing. This has made it difficult (sometimes impossible) for most species to adapt quickly enough to survive. The destruction of the habitat or disturbance to the natural abode or locality of an animal or plant has been the primary cause for the extinction of many a species. We have seen the drainage of wetlands in most countries or the conversion of shrub lands to grazing lands. The cutting and clearing of forests happens all the time in tropical countries. Then there is urbanization which forces the species to find alternate locations. When highways or big development projects like dams are built, they have to find new homes.
Then, of course, there is also the threat of commercial exploitation of animals. This is primarily being done for food and other products. The best examples of such exploitation are the great whales that are slaughtered for oil and meat and the African rhinocerous killed for its horns
Pollution is another cause for the extinction of species. Toxic chemicals are used extensively now. Water pollution is common. Increased water temperatures also affect them.
Realizing the need for protection, several countries have brought in legislation. In the United Sates, for example, there are laws to protect wildlife from commercial trade and over-hunting. There are also some countries where planned programmes are underway to propagate breeding stock . The establishment of natural reserves also help to protect the species.
Conifers, as the name suggests, are trees which produce cones, not flowers. Their leaves are thin and needle-like and usually stay on the tree all year round.
Conifers include the largest, oldest and tallest living things on earth. The giant sequoia of California can live for well over a thousand years. The redwood tree is the tallest, measuring up to 111 metres. Another tall tree is the Douglas fir which can grow up to 60 metres.
The needles, or leaves, of a conifer cut down the water loss because of their slender shape. This is especially important during winter when the ground is frozen and water cannot be taken out of the ground .
Conifers can withstand more severe weather than the broad leaved trees and so grow successfully high up on mountains. A conifer "belt" stretches right across Canada, northern Europe and Asia. The dominant conifers in these regions are spruce and pine.
Many conifer plantations have been planted by man. These are easily recognized because the trees are always planted in rows. Plantation trees are cut down when fully grown. Conifers can grow in places where the soil is poor, and many plantations are now growing on what were once bare mountain slopes, heaths and moorland.
Unlike broad-leaved trees, conifers grow very regularly and have a definite shape. Each spring a fresh shoot grows out of the top, and the side branches grow equally to form a new ring of branches. The straight centre trunk provides smooth timber which can be cut into planks, floorboards and furniture, or used for making posts and ships' masts. The wood, called deal in the trade, is softer than the hardwood of broad-leaved trees. It can also be pulped for making hardboard and newspaper.
Conifers contain oils and resins which protect them in cold weather, and also seal up any wounds. Resin is used in soap and disinfectants, and for making turpentine. Some timber, like cedarwood, is hard-wearing and is used to build sheds.
It is possible to identify a conifer by its needles. Those of the spruce, yew and Douglas fir grow separately. Pines, cedars and larches have their needles in groups. The pines have two, three or five needles together. Larch and cedar needles grow in bunches. Hemlocks have single needles of different lengths, while cypress needles are closely packed around the twigs.
The bark of conifers is smooth at first, then divides into patches or furrows. Some bark contains a substance called tannin, which is used in treating leather.
A conifer wood is dark and gloomy because there is a continual cover of leaves. On the ground is a carpet of needles which decays slowly. The soil is acidic. A conifer wood is mostly a silent place, with few animals, since there are few sources of food apart from the seeds of the cones. There are far fewer flowers than in an oak wood, because it is too dark for them to grow. Only toadstools and some kinds of insects find coniferous forests good places to live in.
Because of the oil content in conifers they can easily catch fire. It is usually in coniferous woods and forests that serious outbreaks of fire occur, and sometimes these fires are very difficult to bring under control.
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