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.