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Concerns over Sigiriya's wasps

14 March 2010 11:48 pm - 9     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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 There is controversy in Sri Lanka over the fate of thousands of bees that pose an intermittent threat to people around one of the country’s top tourist sites. Residents near the Sigiriya rock fortress complain that cruel methods are being used to get rid of some of the insects, whose colonies have lived there for hundreds of years.

Sigiriya is a spectacular royal residence built fifteen hundred years ago in the jungle by a warrior king, Kasyapa.

Visitors pass through water gardens and see colourful frescoes on their way up the massive natural rock outcrop, which is topped by a now ruined palace. In some seasons, though, they have to contend with huge colonies of giant honeybees which guard Sigiriya’s portals.

Whole groups of schoolchildren or tourists have been stung and sent to hospital or evacuated with military help. At times of greatest threat, such as now, visitors must wear special protective clothing.

But local people say that in recent days, site employees have behaved unethically by using fire and chemicals to destroy some of the bees.

Those employed at the tourist site, however, say the only methods they’ve used to calm the insects have been Buddhist rituals including an all-night prayer ceremony.

According to local legend quoted in some media, the bees are the incarnation of King Kasyapa’s soldiers. Any way of restraining their activity at this UNESCO World Heritage Site is going to be controversial. These creatures are said to be twice the size of European honeybees, with stingers three times as long.

But one local scientist says that if the bees are respected, they won’t attack – and suggests planting trees as alternative nesting sites.  (BBC)

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  Comments - 9

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  • Monday, 15 March 2010 04:27 AM

    Relevant authorities, Pls action before it is too late. Bee colonies are also wonderful sight to tourists. Let these innocent bees live their way and take precautionary action without killing them.

    Monday, 15 March 2010 10:14 AM

    warps should be removed as they are dangerous & my guess is they may not be native to Sri Lanka, Bees should be kept like all things the good should be serperated from the bad.

    Monday, 15 March 2010 10:33 AM

    In this country Elephants can be killed, but killing stinging WASPS is a BIG ISSUE?

    Tuesday, 16 March 2010 06:08 PM

    A very pathetic situation. Bees can't seek fundamental rights relief from courts or any other institution. We are all duty bound, to protect their natural habitat.

    Monday, 15 March 2010 05:05 AM

    Now un will set up a specil panel to investigate beerights...

    Monday, 15 March 2010 07:13 AM

    intruct visitors to CHANT pirith before going to visit these sites. what a joke???

    Monday, 15 March 2010 08:06 AM

    Do we have scientists in sri lanka ? Is it Mervin ?

    Monday, 15 March 2010 06:30 PM

    As a tourist due to go to Sigiriya next month I feel a little apprehensive about this, especially as we will be climbing with a ten-year old. Not sure what the answer is, but I can understand why the local business community (and all the persons in the region who rely on visitors for their income) would be worried, as it will definitely put people off, if they are in danger of being attacked.

    Monday, 15 March 2010 10:03 AM

    Nature's fury: Consequences of giving more importance to tourism at the expence of ecology and concrete expansions in the name of development.


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