Na­ture takes its course

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

After the del­uge ear­lier this week, tourists both lo­cal and for­eign be­gan flock­ing to Yala Na­tional Park in the south. Three cheers to the Prime Min­is­ter who had to step in -- and put his foot down, on the ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic that was detri­men­tal to the wildlife in the park.

Like al­most ev­ery­where else, a ‘mafia’ with po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age has taken con­trol of the sa­fari tours in­side the park which at times looks like the De­hi­wela or Ra­ja­giriya junc­tions at peak hour.

The coun­try’s next best Wil­pattu Na­tional Park which re-opened after the decades long north­ern in­sur­gency is fac­ing a hu­man in­va­sion of a dif­fer­ent kind, also re­lated to pol­i­tics. There, it is a case of hu­man habi­ta­tion en­croach­ing on what was once the do­main of wildlife. De­for­esta­tion is go­ing on at rapid pace in the area de­spite a Pres­i­den­tial de­cree to halt it.

This felling of trees is not only hap­pen­ing in­side the park bound­aries, but to the north of it. Re­set­tle­ments, new roads, places of wor­ship are all tak­ing shape with ap­peals not only to the Pres­i­dent as Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment, but even to the Vat­i­can to safe­guard ‘God’s cre­ation’. The De­part­ment of Wildlife is be­sieged by po­lit­i­cal pres­sure.

Floods and droughts -- and land­slides -- through­out Sri Lanka as we wit­nessed this week are partly due to the is­land’s for­est cover be­ing down to 22 per cent. With a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of both humans and an­i­mals, and fixed land mass, the del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween na­ture and the hu­man-an­i­mal con­flict -- en­vi­ron­men­tal cir­cles call it the Bal­ance of Power -- requires a high de­gree of po­lit­i­cal as­tute­ness, and firm­ness.

The PM’s in­ter­ven­tion at Yala, and the Pres­i­dent’s at Wil­pattu, are a sine quo non for the Gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic plan for the fu­ture, Vi­sion 2025, and be­yond. Cli­mate change and global warm­ing are bad enough phe­nom­ena; the ice glaciers in Green­land are melt­ing faster than thought and they say rais­ing sea lev­els alarm­ingly. Man-made crises must not ag­gra­vate a bad enough sit­u­a­tion.

An­i­mals and trees have no votes, but as ev­ery­one knows, na­ture has its own way of be­ing heard. No. 08, Hunupi­tiya Cross Road, Colombo 02. P.O. Box 1136, Colombo edi­tor@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2331276 news@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2479332, 2328889, 2331276 fea­tures@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2479312, 2328889,2331276 pic­tures@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2479323, 2479315 sports@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2479311 bt@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2479319 fun­times@sun­day­times.wnl.lk - 2479337, 2331276 2479540, 2479579, 2479725 2479629, 2477628, 2459725

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