he other day, in my continuous and losing battle to keep my bookshelves in order, I found three management plans written for the conservation of elephants in Sri Lanka. I shall not write about their content (which, over three successive decades, was much the same) nor how much of these plans has been implemented (on a scale of 1 to 10, possibly 0). What I shall present in this essay is the point of view that although much attention has been paid to this charismatic species, our focus in Sri Lanka should be directed instead to its top carnivore – the leopard, Panthera pardus.
The removal of a top carnivore from an ecosystem can have an impact on the relative abundance of herbivore species . . . In the absence of predators, usually one or two herbivore species come to dominate the community. The consequence is often a direct alteration of herbaceous vegetation near to the base of the food web. Top carnivores have an important role to play in the structuring of communities and ultimately of ecosystems. Thus, the preservation of carnivores becomes an important consideration in the discipline of conservation biology” Dr. John F. Eisenberg
Wildlife tourism is a fast growing segment of the modern tourism market. Sri Lanka, being blessed with an abundance of biodiversity, is known for its wildlife attractions. Can this segment then attract more discerning, higher spending tourists to Sri Lanka?
Agriculture is the key sector that supports the rural economy of Sri Lanka. The contribution of the agriculture sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019 was 7.4%, but showed a contracted sectoral growth in 2020 due to impacts of Covid-19. The monumental decision taken in May 2021 by the Sri Lankan Government to switch to organic agriculture by banning the production and importation of chemical fertilisers had compounding impacts on agricultural production and food security.
The Minneriya National Park (MNP) was once the site for the “Great Elephant Gathering”. It had gained international repute and Lonely Planet ranked it as “one of the 10 greatest wildlife wonders of the world”.