Sri Lanka’s national parks lay host to some of the most diverse concentration of wildlife on the planet.
Chief among them is the Udawalawe National Park. There are 43 species of mammals that call Udawalawe home. That’s not to mention the 21 kinds of fish, the 33 varieties of reptiles and for those of an ornithological orientation, there are 184 different birds.
With mammals ranging from wild cats to wild boar, the undisputed king of the park is the endangered Sri Lankan elephant. The subspecies once roamed the entirety of Sri Lanka but conflict with human interest has hemmed them in to an ever-decreasing territory.
A central aspect of the identity of Udawalawe is the efforts poured into conservation of wildlife. The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Centre nurtures orphaned, young calves until they are capable of surviving independently.
With rich bounties of water sources and foliage naturally available to support wildlife, Udawalawe is a success story of the efforts made to protect a dwindling population of culturally significant animals.
Whilst elephants are legislatively safeguarded against poaching in Sri Lanka, they (and other creatures) face great competition from human economic interests. Crop cultivation and settlements are vital to developing countries economies, Sri Lanka being no exception.
To provide greater security for the futures of rare and endangered animals and their habitats, we need to see an increase in their economic viability by ensuring that they are a focal point of the economies of countries that hold them.
Travel & Tourism is currently sagging at 3.7% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, with affects of the 2004 tsunami contributing to long-term stagnation. Through tourism, parks like Udawalawe keep conservation on the agenda.
By Corey Drewry