The use of mobile phones within the Yala National Park is to be restricted in an attempt to enhance the experience of the wildlife enthusiasts visiting the park, the Wildlife Conservation Department said.
According to them, when a leopard or other interesting sighting is made by one vehicle, the news is rapidly transmitted by means of mobile phones, attracting large numbers of vehicles to the site, causing severe congestion and spoiling the experience for everyone.
“In the rush to reach the site quickly, many vehicles travel at excessive speed and fail to obey the road rules. This is a danger both to the park’s animals and to its visitors and prevents law-abiding visitors from enjoying their visit.”
One of the methods proposed to address this problem has been to curtail mobile services within the park during the peak times of 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., during which most sightings are made.
Therefore, on a trial basis, mobile telephony services will be suspended from July 20 to 26, August 3 to 9, August 17 to 23 and August 31 to September 6 within the Yala National Park.
The Wildlife Conservation Department mobile service providers Dialog Axiata, Mobitel, Hutchison and Etisalat at the request of the Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission have agreed to suspend their services during the stipulated dates.
“During this period (July 20 to September 13, 2015), a study will be made in the Yala National Park to assess the impact of the mobile communications suspension on visitor behaviour.
At the same time, a study will be made of the movement of selected vehicles in the national park using GPS tracking.
The results of these studies will be used for future policy-planning purposes,” Wildlife Conservation Department said. While regretting the inconvenience that the programme will cause the businesses, residences and hotels around the park, the Wildlife Conservation Department urged them to recognize the importance of it.
Yala is Sri Lanka’s busiest national park with over 100,000 visitors per year.