WHAT IS YALA?
Yala National Park is the second largest and the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Its protected area of 130, 000 hectares is divided into 5 blocks of which 2 are open to the public. Yala was first designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900; it was declared a national park in 1938. It homes about 250 species of wildlife including the endemic and endangered mammal, Panthara padus kotiya, commonly known as the Sri Lankan leopard. It is well known to hold the highest density of leopard population in the world.
SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Due to its popularity as a guaranteed destination for leopard sightings, visitation to Yala, by both local and foreign tourists, increase every year. There has been an exponential boom in tourism and visits to Yala especially after the end of the thirty-year civil unrest, which kept the park closed for long periods of time.
The influx of visitors has created unhealthy conditions for the wildlife that are found within. Over visitation has reached crisis proportions and this is now affecting the natural behaviour of wildlife while obstructing their right to roam free within the park. Hundreds of small animals and occasionally big animals also run over by speeding jeeps exacerbate the over visitation issue. Discipline of jeep drivers has decreased due to high competition among parties to give the best sighting to their clients.
THATS WHERE WE COME IN. WHO ARE WE?
“A Voice for Wildlife” is an initiative formed by a volunteer group of youth professionals in Sri Lanka with the aim of spearheading policy change within the Yala National Park.
WHAT WE WANT TO DO
We are working towards improving the governance of the tourism industry in Yala National Park through POLICY CHANGES that would protect the wildlife but also enhance the quality of life of the surrounding community that are dependent on its income.
We believe that EDUCATION plays a key role in making a sustainable change.
“Project Yala” is aimed at creating awareness of the ecological and archeological values of the Park amongst the major stakeholders in affiliation with the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka. We hope to create such awareness through facilitating extensive workshops, distribution of leaflets, booklets, printed t-shirts etc.
WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED SO FAR?
We have already collaborated with a well establlished conservation group in Sri Lanka and have been welcomed to sit in a committee elected by the government to bring about change. Our group together with experienced wildlife activists and enthusiasts have drafted and are in the process of finalising the proposed policy changes.
We have also signed a petition with over 5000 signatories from 96 different countries, directed towards the Government of Sri Lanka titled "Call to action and pass a regulation on safeguarding the animals of the National Park".
Visit our facebook page which has over 2500 followers for updates on our progress.
WHAT WE WANT FROM YOU
Help us raise money to fund the initial cost of our venture. The money you donate will do into organising and implementing above workshops. We greatly appreciate every effort that you have taken to support our mission!