The Doomed Giants of Anuradhapura
Sunrise over the Basawakkulama Tank, believed to be Sri Lanka’s oldest reservoir, built in 400BC, against the backdrop of the Ruwanwelisaya and, faintly in the distance, the massive broken Jetawanaramaya, both over 2,000 years old. The tree silhouetted against the morning is one of many that line the tank’s retaining bund. For perhaps a century or more, these broadly spread giants have sheltered farmers, workers, schoolchildren, and the occasional photographer, using the bund as a footpath into Anuradhapura. When I took this picture in January 2017, while on assignment for Serendib magazine, the trees were also home to rock squirrels, numerous nesting birds, and families of grey langurs. But sadly, it has now been reported that the government has begun felling these ancient trees because they are believed to be damaging the bund with their great roots. The perspective they have given to one of the most iconic views of Anuradhapura will be the least of the losses their deaths will bring.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/250 • ISO100 • 600D & EF-S18-200/3.5-5.6 •


Beauty from Garbage
Weras Lake, Bellanwila, after a night of rain in November 2021. Many of these lakes in the southern suburbs of Colombo, which are central features of landscaped jogging and cycling tracks, have been created by using the wetlands around the Weras River as landfills. The city’s garbage (including huge quantities of plastic) has been emptied into these marshes, creating land on which footpaths, recreational areas, and premium housing have been built. Despite the fact that the wetlands stretching south to the Bolgoda Lake include areas designated wildlife sanctuaries, much of its water has been drained by the landscaping into deep pools that form artificial lakes. While these water features still teem with birds and reptiles, they are a heavily polluted manmade ecosystem that doesn’t support many of the creatures endemic to the original marshlands.

Beauty in the Eye of the Farsighted
The Nedimala Canal, bordering the Attidiya Bird Sanctuary, is on my morning jogging route. It, like all of Sri Lanka’s waterways, is choked with plastic. All of the newish walking paths built through and around the wetlands of Colombo’s suburbs, part of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse’s initiative (begun when he was head of the Urban Development Authority) to create a healthier population, are built on plastic. Wetlands are used as landfills; the city’s waste (mostly plastic) is dumped in, and then landscaped. It looks pretty, but it’s just garbage.

Fishermen, Vakarai, Sri Lanka
Coastal fishermen such as these, off Vakarai, on the east coast of Sri Lanka, are heavily dependent on a delicate eco-system to feed their families and earn a daily income. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines. My cover story, Racing before the Wind, fronted the June 2016 issue.

Restoring the Balance

Restoring Nature #2 by Son of the Morning Light on
A cleared hillside close to Haputale, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. September 2017. The island has lost huge areas of jungle and forest to the plantation and timber industries over the last two centuries. Many areas in the Central Highlands are now being removed of environmentally harmful pine trees that were introduced in the 1970s; replacing them with endemic trees in a government-initiated reforestation programme which will encourage the return of undergrowth.