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Author Topic: Elephant relocation claim harmful  (Read 244 times)
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« on: July 27, 2011, 06:31:02 pm »

A well-known environmentalist and senior tourism industry personnel, Srilal Miththapala last week claimed that a government big wig had shot his mouth that 200 elephants would be translocated in Hambantota and this could cause severe repercussions where there could be a strong international lobby against granting Sri Lanka the hosting of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Miththapala, who was speaking on ‘Nature Based Tourism’ under the topic, ‘Nature Based Tourism,’ at a workshop on ‘Sustainable Bio-diversity & Economic development,’ said, “A big wig had shouted his mouth about the 200 elephants in Hambantota. This could cause irreparable damage to our Commonwealth Games bid because the international lobby is so powerful that they could make a strong case to the Commonwealth Games Committee against granting Sri Lanka the hosting of the 2018 Games in view of the fact that some 200 elephants are to be translocated in Hambantota which is earmarked as the games village. It will be big time news for the lobbyists, especially Australia who are competing with us to stage the games,” Miththapala cautioned stressing that management control was a prerequisite.
Miththapala, who was re-contacted by The Bottom Line last Thursday for his comments following a vehement denial by the Wild Life Director about such an elephant overture in Hambantota, said, “All what I’m saying is that by somebody shooting his mouth to that effect it has already caused much harm. Already, the international lobby must have picked it up. That is why I stress that management control is a pre-requisite in Sri Lanka.”


On the topic proper, Miththapala observed that Sri Lanka was way ahead of other countries in the sphere of wildlife. “Sri Lanka had the first wildlife park and we might, I believe, have the highest concentration of leopards in one particular location. There is no other place in the world other than Sri Lanka in that respect where our country stands out as Asia’s most authentic, unique and compact diverse island.”
He noted that today, eco tourism had captured 7 per cent of the world market. In fact, many hotels had jumped on the eco tourism band wagon. He stressed the fact that as to Sri Lanka’s ‘Going Green’ campaign, ‘you need to walk the talk.’ The guidelines had to be met. A dismaying factor in a Kandy hotel he had visited was that this message had not sunk in to the owner. “Only the hotel objects were green in colour with the hotel whitewashed green. I never visited that hotel again,” remarked Miththapala who advised that the authorities should put this ignorant hotelier on the right track by having tourism officers visit the place.
He further dealt with the definition of tourism which ranged from leisure to sustainable tourism, eco tourism and business tourism where paramountly sustainable tourism was an umbrella covering all forms of tourism and not one. Even beach tourism could be catagorised under it. He drove the point that nature-based tourism essentially provided incentives to local communities in areas of enjoying natural attractions such as wildlife-based on education. A high point in Sri Lanka being a major global tourist attraction was our varied ecological concentrations. The Sinharaja rain forest was unmatchable in its kind compared to the rest of the world.
No elephants in the South will be relocated either for the construction of the Mattala airport or for the proposed Games City in Hambantota hosting Commonwealth Games in 2018, Director General of Wildlife Conservation Department Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja said. He said the media reports that the government was planning to relocate 200 elephants were baseless and not true.
Disclaiming the report that a runway of the Mattala airport is built across an elephant corridor, he said that electric fences have been erected round the airport leaving out the elephant corridor.
He also said that a complete Environment Impact Assessment had been carried out for this project.
Commenting on the proposed Games City, the Director General said that necessary precautions will be taken to ensure wildlife conservation of the area and discussions are already underway to control environmental harm.
He further said none of the National Parks including Yala, Kumana and Lahugala will be affected by these development projects. The Director General also stressed that amendments are sought to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance not to facilitate development projects ahead of the Commonwealth Games, but, mainly to strengthen the laws and regulations related to marine environment. He said that new laws pertaining to corals, aquatic life and flora will be introduced through this move

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