July 14, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka restricts mobile phone services at Yala national park to minimise the danger from rushing safari vehicles to show animals to visitors.
Yala is one of the busiest national park in the Island but, also a unique conservation site for leopards and other threatened fauna and flora.
The park attracts 100,000 visitors per year.
“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,” Wild Life Department said in the statement.
“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.”
The department said a request has been made to telecom authority and all the telecom operators have agreed to suspend their services to Yala National Park during the peak times of 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m in which most sightings are made, starting from July 20th.
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 behaviour.
At the same time, a study will be made also 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.”