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Sunday, 30 August 2009

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Wildlife picks up with end of war

Sri Lanka which is trying to rise from the debris of a decade long war, is seeking to flaunt her world famous natural beauty adorned with flora and fauna. In the aftermath of the successful battle against terrorism, the Government has focused its attention to promote the beaches and wildlife parks among local and foreign tourists. With improved facilities, the 20 wildlife parks under the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) have how opened the gates to attract more local and foreign tourists.

The revenue earned by these wildlife parks during the last six months, according to DWLC officials is Rs. 83.67 million. The Department has expedited its activities of habitat management, water hole development, destroying invasive plants, developing road net work and improving facilities for visitors. The security in these parks including Yala, Wilpattu, Gal-Oya, Kumana, Uda Walawe, Lahugala, Wasgamuwa, Lunugamvehera and Minneriya National Parks have been strengthened.

The Yala National Park, which earns a monthly income of nearly Rs. 3 million has now become a popular destination among the day visitors. The water scarcity due to drought has been solved by constructing new water holes and pumping water from the adjoining Menik River to Yala Weva. With 1,259 sqkm, Yala is the country's second largest National Park with its Eastern part of the park a popular destination for watching water birds.The Yala Park in the dry zone is having the world's highest concentration of leopards and a one of the best places in the country to observe large number of mammals. There are 32 species of mammals living in the park and over 230 species of resident, migrant and endemic species of birds.

According to DWLC sources, the income earned by the Yala Park has increased during the last six months compared with the total amount of revenue earned in the same period in 2008. The total earnings from Yala in June 2008 which was Rs. 872,741 has increased to Rs. 1.3 million by June this year.

Wasgamuwa National Park is another popular wildlife destination lying in between the Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts where the elephants, wild buffaloes, spotted deer, leopards, sloth bears, water monitors and crocodiles are the major wildlife attractions in the park.

If someone wants to spot wild elephants and to experience a close encounter with a wild jumbo, the Uda Walawe National Park is the ideal hub where a large population of elephants is roaming. It lies within the Ratnapura and Moneragala districts and shelters spotted deer, sambhur, water buffaloes, mongoose, bandicoots, foxes, water monitor lizards, crocodiles, wild boars, toque monkeys, grey langur, leopards and various varieties of snakes.

Another wildlife park maintained by the DWLC is the Horton Plains National Park in the hills of Nuwara Eliya District. The 'World's End', is famously 700 meter steep and its unique diversity of wildlife has attracted many a local and foreign tourists to the park.

The Bundala National Park, the internationally acclaimed park for the migratory water birds in Sri Lanka, is the fourth biosphere reserve designated by UNESCO. It is a habitat for over 197 species of birds and a major haunt for the migratory Greater Flamingos.

According to officials the total revenue of the Yala National Park during the last six months was Rs. 26.7 million, Horton Plains Rs. 20.1 m Udawalawe Rs. 18.2 m, Minneriya Rs. 10.7 m and Kaudulla Rs. 2.6 m.

The Wilpattu National Park, which was shut down to visitors during the past due to LTTE threats, will be opened before the end of this year, and the new road network constructions and bungalows are going ahead. The existing bungalows in all the national parks will also be renovated while the two fully furnished bungalows at Lunugamwehera is nearing completion.

 

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