Acting on its pledge to ensure better park management at wildlife parks across the country, the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has launched a fresh initiative to train 4,000 safari operators island-wide.
The first phase of the project was conducted in Minneriya last week, and a large number of Safari operators in the area took part in the training and engaged with resource people. The project is carried out in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Department and the Federation of Environmental Organisations.
SLTDA Director – Domestic Tourism and Community Relations Mihira Liyanaarachchi said the training was conducted as a ‘nature interpretation program’ and the safari operators were given a comprehensive understanding of the link between their profession and better park management.
“Safari operators must act in a manner that does not disrupt or disturb the natural movement of animals and natural eco-systems of wildlife parks. There is a seamless connection between their profession and the natural balance within wildlife parks which should be managed in a sustainable manner. It is important that the safari operators understand the crucial role they play in this whole system,” Liyanaarachchi said, commenting on the purpose of the initiative.
He said the training program would convince the safari operators that they had a larger responsibility towards protecting environment, adding that the project would soon be taken to Yala, Kumana, Kaudulla and Wilpattu wildlife parks.
Environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts have often raised concerns that some ‘unruly’ Safari operators disrupt natural movements of animals and cause irreparable damage to natural eco-systems of Sri Lanka’s wildlife parks - which attract hundreds of thousands of tourists on a yearly basis.
The training program is the latest initiative by the SLTDA, the regulatory body for Sri Lanka tourism, to create a healthy balance between the industry interests and sustainability of wildlife parks.