Oct 23 (Wanderlust) Sri Lankan authorities have closed campsites in Yala National Park, famous for its leopard population, following complaints from safari guides and conservationists
The building of permanent campsites inside the park is against regulations and authorities acted on Sunday to close these down in the hope of reducing the level of human-animal conflict.
The BBC's Charles Haviland reported in April that: "anarchic behaviour in [Sri Lanka's] national parks is endangering the wildlife and ecology of the area." Suggestions have been made that many of the transgressions are being committed by guides and tour operators intent on a leopard sighting for their customers in the hope of a large tip.
Yala National Park is Sri Lanka's most famous Leopard habitat. Manori Gunawardena, a wildlife biologist living near Yala, said that this "leopard-centric marketing" is also to blame.
Earlier this year a female leopard cub was killed in a hit-and-run incident. Local reports claim serious damage is being done to local fauna and flora and littering is disrupting the habitats of other local animals including: elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer, crocodiles and a variety of birds.
President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Friday (19 October) that all illegal campsites inside the country's national parks are to be removed, with Yala National Park's to be removed immediately. This ban may affect travellers who have already booked safari tours in national parks throughout Sri Lanka.