The wild elephants of Sri Lanka—prized national treasures and icons of tourism
Sri Lanka’s wild elephants are one of the wonders of the natural world: 6,000–6,500 in number, by far the highest density per area of any country in Asia.
Says Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL): “From ancient times, elephants have played an important role in the religion and culture of Sri Lanka. The elephant is featured in many Buddhist stories and texts, while ancient kings used tamed elephants for war, ceremonies and work.
“Even today, the annual Kandy Perahera, the grand pageant in the hill Capital, with all of its gaily caparisoned elephants, is an important feature in the tourist calendar.”
Noting that “elephants playing such a major role in Sri Lanka’s natural asset portfolio, it asks: “Could we not position the elephant as an icon for Sri Lanka Tourism?
It cites Srilal Miththapala (pictured above), a former President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and former CEO of Serendib Leisure Management, “a keen environmentalist and wildlife enthusiast with a particular interest in elephants”.
Says BSL: “Miththapala is unafraid to challenge the authorities on their failure to maximize on the biodiversity and other natural attractions that Sri Lanka has to offer”, and “has long been an advocate for branding Sri Lanka’s wildlife and presenting it in such a manner that it will encourage tourists to return to this country again to enjoy its beautiful wild heritage.”
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