Many visitors to Yala National Park have complained to the Department of Wildlife Conservation regarding problems resulting from the misuse of mobile telephones within the park. In many cases, when a leopard or other interesting sighting is made by one vehicle, the news is rapidly transmitted by means of mobile phones, attracting large numbers of vehicles to the site, causing severe congestion and spoiling the experience for everyone. In the rush to reach the site quickly, many vehicles travel at excessive speed and fail to obey road rules. This is a danger both to the park’s animals and to its visitors, and prevents law-abiding visitors from enjoying their visit.
One of the methods proposed to address this problem has been to curtail mobile services within the park during the peak times of 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m., during which most sightings are made, on a trial basis. Based on a request made by the Director General of Wildlife Conservation, the Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka has requested Dialog Axiata, Mobitel, Hutchison and Etisalat to suspend their services to Yala National Park at the above times during the following periods: 20 –26 July 2015, 3–9 August 2015, 17–23 August 2015 and 31 August 2015 and 6 September 2015, in order that an assessment could be made of the impact of mobile phone services in the park. These operators have kindly agreed to comply with this request.
During this period (20 July to 13 September 2015), a study will be made in Yala National Park to assess the impact of the mobile communications suspension on visitor behavior. At the same time, a study will also be made of the movement of selected vehicles in the national park using GPS tracking. The results of these studies will be used for future policy-planning purposes.
The Department of Wildlife Conservation recognizes the importance of mobile phone services not only to visitors to Yala National Park, but also to the hotels, businesses and residences around the park that may be affected by this program. Any inconvenience caused by this suspension is sincerely regretted. It is hoped that all stakeholders will recognize that with over 100,000 visitors per year, Yala is not only Sri Lanka’s busiest national park but also a unique conservation site for leopards and other threatened fauna and flora. Its sustainable management is therefore a matter of national importance.
Further, the Department of Wildlife Conservation is undertaking a number of initiatives to improve visitor services at Yala, including the construction of new toilet facilities at Patanangala, Palatupana and Parana Totupola; and provision for “e-ticketing” that will allow advance purchase of entry permits to the park.
We therefore kindly request the public to understand that the above steps are being taken so as to preserve Yala as a national asset for future generations while maximizing opportunities for the public to enjoy this unique national treasure safely and sustainably.
Any comments or suggestions with regard to this suspension of service may be addressed to the undersigned.
Director General of Wildlife Conservation
Department of Wildlife Conservation