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National Parks to be closed

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Wildlife officials have informed the Wildlife Conservation Department that Yala, Udawalawe and Wilpattu National Parks should be closed since there is a severe food and water crisis for animals due to the drought prevailing for more than three months.

The Department intends to consult with the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation to take a final decision regarding the closure of national parks after obtaining a forecast from the Meteorological Department.

Wildlife zones are spread over an area of 1.1 million hectares, of which an area of about 1 million hectares is located in the dry zone.

The water level of many small lakes, ponds and large lakes in Wilpattu, Yala and Udawalawe National Parks has decreased and the Wildlife Department has taken measures to provide water to the animals through bowers.

Meanwhile, environmentalists said the buffaloes living in the Yala National Park may die without water if the dry weather conditions continue.

Due to the drying up of ponds and lakes in the Udawalawe National Park, safari jeep drivers and environmentalists have recently volunteered to fill them.

However, a senior wildlife official said that filling up ponds is ecologically ineffective and the only benefit is the tourists visiting the national parks getting the opportunity to see animals.

He also said that giving food to animals is also ecologically wrong, and that animals have the ability to travel some distance in search of food and water.

The department has also focused on the closure of national parks without making an impact on the tourism industry.

Wildlife Conservation Director General Chandana Suriyabandara said that the department is currently providing water to the animals living in the tourist areas of the national parks, and that the department has necessary funds to do this.

“Providing water to the animals in the entire Sri Lanka is ecologically wrong. This will only harm the animals,” he said.

(Aruna)

BIZ

Apple is the world’s first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

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Kantar BrandZ’s Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 has named Apple as the world’s first trillion-dollar brand, holding onto pole position for the third consecutive year. 

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon join Apple atop the rankings, with McDonald’s rounding up the top 5.

Demonstrating how effective AI has become for driving brand value, NVIDIA has lept 18 places to crack the top 10 for the first time, holding sixth position with a 178% year-on-year brand value increase. 

Facebook rejoined the Top 10 after a one-year absence, while Oracle joined the Top 10 for the first time. 

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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University applications open tomorrow 

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced that online applications for university admissions for the academic year 2023/2024 will open tomorrow (14 June).

Applications will be available from 6 am tomorrow at www.ugc.ac.lk
The application deadline is 5 July 2024. 

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