The Island newspaper reports how Srilal Miththapala, “a passionate wildlife enthusiast, untiring advocate of conservation of wild elephants, and experienced tourism professional”, puts an economic value on the world-famous Elephant Gathering at the Minneriya National Wildlife Park.
The Gathering takes place from around June to October each year, and attracts large numbers of tourists. The park provides an ideal refuge for wild elephants during the dry season, where there is abundant water, grasslands and ready-made forest cover to retreat to when the afternoon sun becomes too hot.
Srilal Miththapala concludes:
- It can be seen that the phenomena of the Elephant Gathering in Minneriya National Park is benefiting stakeholders of the region directly by about Rs.1.25 billion each year. This translates into overall earnings of about Rs 8.5 million per day.
- Hence, it is evident that the The Gathering has a far-reaching impact on a wide cross-section of stakeholders in the region, both large and small, who are reaping rich rewards both financially and through maintenance of livelihoods.
- It is therefore very vital that all these stakeholders should work together to protect and safeguard this natural wonder, and prevent any disruption whatsoever to the ‘Gathering’ in the future.