Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Tourism in Safe Hands at Udawalawa National Park

Photo BFF/Deepani Jayantha

Off-road driving, racing, driving into elephant herds and obstructing their way are some of the irresponsible tourist activities which can sometimes be seen in Udawalawa National Park, the area where Born Free carries out its operations in Sri Lanka. Jeep drivers and park guides are as responsible as the visitors themselves to maintain order and to ensure the Park’s animals are disturbed as little as possible.

Born Free Sri Lanka and the park management recently agreed to conduct a series of awareness workshops for jeep drivers and tourist guides. The incentive for participation is the information they receive on the Park’s biodiversity during these workshops, knowledge which they can use to enrich the service they provide to the visitors.

The first of these workshops was conducted by Professor Devaka Weerakoon of the University of Colombo. He began with an overview of biodiversity in Sri Lanka and then gradually focused the discussion on species and habitat diversity of Udawalawa National Park. He emphasised that truly responsible tourism is more about providing a complete experience and less about ensuring that visitors get to see elephants or leopards: ‘Tourists adore landscape beauty, they love to see the differences in different vegetation types of the park. And they love to be told stories about the Park’, he advised.

The audience had many questions, mainly about elephants. Born Free will continue to work with experts like Professor Weerakoon as well as the Park’s management staff to enable these workshops to continue. In this way the jeep drivers and tourist guides receive not only the training they need on specific animals and plants but also the capacity to provide a more complete and responsible experience to the Park’s visitors.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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