Colombo, Oct 30 (newsin.asia) – The World Bank, on Monday said it had raised with the Sri Lankan government the importance of managing traffic into the Yala National Park which is an important cultural heritage and signature park in the island country.
The World Bank in a statement said that ongoing discussions between the Bank and the government was held with a view to ensuring that the park’s vulnerable resources were managed for the benefit of those employed in the parks, including the local community and the many visitors for whom the experience in the park would be a lasting one.
“When people think of wildlife in Sri Lanka, this is the first park that comes to mind with its majestic cats, amongst other animals. But it’s not simply the Bank that has been raising the importance of managing this resource carefully, many SriLankans who have visited the Park believe that the time is now to manage the resource before significant irreversible damage,” the World Bank said.
“Simply closing a Block in the park is not a holistic nor sustainable solution and is not the type of solution that the Bank would propose. Further, holding back funding would defeat the purpose of supporting better management,” the World Bank added.
The Yala National Park, which is home to some of the region’s rarest animals, birds and majestic cats was shut from Sept 1 until Oct 23, due to the drought and to allow the animals and the forest a bit of a respite from human intrusion.
Upon its re-opening, the government imposed a new rule to restrict the number of safari jeeps entering the park to 200 a day – 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon from the over 350 jeeps which were entering the park on a daily basis .
The new law was introduced after consultation with the Wildlife and Tourism authorities following complaints that Yala was being overcrowded.
The new law however was heavily opposed by safari jeep operators who are demanding for unhindered access to the wildlife sanctuary and who are threatening continuous protests.
The Yala National Park is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted dear, peacocks, and crocodiles.
The park welcomes thousands of visitors each year and is one of the largest tourist attractions in the island country.