The sustainable Development and Wildlife Ministry has decided to close the Wilpattu National Park to visitors during the low season months of May and to strictly enforce zoning restrictions whereby tourists and other visitors will be allowed to only visit designated zones in the park.Wilpattu National Park has been severely affected by the prevailing drought in the northern and central region of Sri Lanka, according to a media statement by the Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry, “As a result of the drought, almost all of the waterholes in the park have gone dry causing great suffering to the animals inhabiting the park area,” the statement said.
The critical situation and urgently required relief measures were the main topics of a recent discussion among Wildlife and Tourism ministers, officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the representatives of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO).
During the meeting, SLAITO has volunteered to fill up the dried up waterholes by transporting water in large bowsers in order to provide relief to the animals. SLAITO was represented by its Ex-Co Members Nalin Jayasundera, Nishad Wijetunga and Anuruddha Bandara.
It was revealed that 30 water bowsers could fill up the 8 water holes for a week. SLAITO agreed to facilitate the transportation of water by bowsers to these waterholes on an urgent basis.
Sustainable Development and Wildlife Minister Jayawickrema Perera welcomed the move and directed the Director General of Wildife to make necessary arrangements to expedite the process.
Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga called for a continuing dialogue among the parties so as to ensure proper coordination of the relief efforts.