BY Buddhika Samaraweera
On the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation is currently focused on setting up a 1,000-acre safari sanctuary in the Northern Province.
Speaking to The Morning, an official of the ministry said that the President has instructed Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife, and Forest Resources Conservation Mahinda Amaraweera to explore possibilities for suitable land in the Northern Province to set up a 1,000-acre safari sanctuary.
He noted that in the absence of a safari sanctuary in the Northern Province, the people of the Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, and Vavuniya Districts belonging to the Northern Province, are required to travel to other parts of the country to visit zoos.
According to the official, Amaraweera has informed the ministry’s Secretary Chandra Herath and the Directors General of the Departments of Wildlife Conservation, and Forest, to look into suitable land for the said purpose.
Amaraweera has also instructed the relevant officials to look into the possibility of introducing certain species of animals that are currently present in national zoos and those that are populated in urban areas and causing damage to cultivations and gardens to the proposed sanctuary.
The officials have pointed out to Amaraweera that if necessary, afforestation can be done on the lands that will be identified in the Northern Province, and that steps can be taken to introduce wild animals to such.
During the relevant meeting to discuss the matter, attention was also drawn to the issue relating to herds of deer that have spread around the Homagama area which had prompted various parties to request Amaraweera and the relevant officials to take steps to relocate the deer herds to a forest reserve or sanctuary.
However, as there have been several reports of deer dying of rabies, it has been decided that the deer should first be tested for rabies before being released to a forest reserve or sanctuary, as releasing rabid deer into such is likely to pose a danger to other animals.