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MUTHURAJAWELA BOAT TOUR

Muthurajawela is one of the major ecological wetland sanctuaries in Sri Lanka that has a vast bio-diversity and it is a marsh in Sri Lanka in the southern region of the Negombo lagoon, 30 km (19 mi) north of Colombo. The Muthurajawela Marshes are 3,068 ha (7,580 acres) in area and the country's largest saline coastal peat bog. The marsh is notable for its unique and highly diverse ecosystem and is listed as one of 12 priority wetlands in Sri Lanka. "Muthurajawela" translates to "Swamp of Royal Treasure". The region supports 192 distinct species of flora and 209 distinct species of fauna, including Slender Loris. Some of the identified species have been shown to be indigenous to the marsh. Birds are the dominant group of vertebrates in Muthurajawela. It consists of 102 species including one endemic. Of the total species, 19 migrants have been recorded. The mixture of vegetation types and aquatic habitats in Muthurajawela has made it an ideal eco-zone for a variety of birds.

102 species of the birds in Sri Lanka are found here, including one endemic and 19 migrants. The mixture of vegetation types and aquatic habitats in Muthurajawela has made it an ideal eco-zone for a variety of birds. In the wetland eco-system Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Teal, Waders and Kingfishers are found here. This is also a very important breeding habitat of many aquatic birds. Some of the wetland birds include Little and Indian Cormorant, Cattle, Little, Intermediate & Large Egrets, Purple Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Little Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Chestnut Bittern, Black-headed Ibis, Asian Open-bill, Little Grebe, Lesser Whistling Teal, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, White-breasted Water hen, Purple Swamp hen, Water Cock and Common Moorhen.

Some of the migrants and waders include Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Pintail Snip, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern and Lesser Crested Tern. Resident waders include the Red-wattled Lapwing, Greater Painted Snip and the Eurasian Thick-nee. Among the Kingfishers, White-throated, Stork-billed, Common and Pied Kingfishers are regularly seen here. The Black-capped Kingfisher, a rare winter migrant, has been recorded here.

Birds of prey include the Shikra, Brahaminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-eagle and the migrant Western Marsh Harrier and Palled Harrier have been recorded. Many forest birds also can be seen in Muthurajawela. The migrants include Indian Pitta, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Greenish Warbler, Brown Shirke, Forest and Grey Wagtail. Resident forest birds include are Spotted Doves, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Blue-faced Malkoha, Pied Cuckoo, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Alexandrian Parakeet, Little Minivet, Plain Prinia, White-rumped and Scaly-bellied Munia, White-bellied Drongo, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Iora, Jungle and House Crows are very common and seem to be the dominant species.

The marsh is believed to have originated about 7,000 years ago. In 1996 1,777 ha (4,390 acres) of the northern part of the Muthurajawela marsh was declared a wetland sanctuary by the government, under the Flora and Fauna Protection Act. The marsh is a major local and tourist attraction, primarily for sightseeing and boating tours, and the area also supports local agriculture and forestry. Visitors to the region are guided through the sanctuary areas by the staff of the Muthurajawela Marsh Centre to avoid serious harm to the marsh ecosystem.

The daily high tide brings in seawater from the ocean into the wetland, and the continuous mixing of these two waters over thousands of years has led to a brackish, integrated coastal ecosystem that is biologically diverse and teeming with life. A variety of mangroves and other types of flora including medicinal plants are found alongside numerous types of birds, butterflies and fish, some of which are endemic. Crocodiles, monitor lizards, and Sri Lanka’s largest snake, the python, are also native.

Muthurajawela is one of the major ecological wetland sanctuaries in Sri Lanka that has a vast bio-diversity. The region supports 192 distinct species of flora and 209 distinct species of fauna, including Slender Loris. Some of the identified species have been shown to be indigenous to the marsh. Birds are the dominant group of vertebrates in Muthurajawela. It consists of 102 species including one endemic. Of the total species, 19 migrants have been recorded. The mixture of vegetation types and aquatic habitats in Muthurajawela has made it an ideal eco-zone for a variety of birds.

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