|Wednesday, 16 February 2005|
by Florence Wickramage and Correspondent S. T. B. Senaratne
Fifty thousand acres of the Horowpathana Forest will soon be declared as a National Park on the instructions of Environment and Natural Resources Minister A. H. M. Fowzie.
The Minister told the Daily News that he has instructed the Director General (DG) of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) Dayananda Kariyawasam to initiate immediate action to declare this new National Park in consideration of the rich biodiversity in the area consisting of valuable medicinal herbs, timber, tanks and waterways, migrant birdlife and natural plants freely available as food stocks for the animals within the forest.
This forest receives the highest rainfall in the Anuradhapura District and is a natural habitat of leopards, elephants and other small animals such as deer, sambur, bear, rabbits and mouse-deer which can be seen moving freely in this area. DWLC officials estimate that around 400 wild elephants use the Horowpathana Forest area as their habitat.
Minister Fowzie also said that this valuable forest has been by-passed for a considerable period of time and that he has instructed Kariyawasam to start work on the roadways leading to the forest so that visitors could visit the park in addition to generating income as a new tourist destination. Moreover declaring Howrowpathana as a new National Park will help in minimising the human-elephant conflict in the area, protect villagers' cultivations and put a stop to illicit game-meat trade.
Fowzie said that during the recent past illicit timber logging and poaching has been rampant and to stop these activities the DWLC has been instructed to open two beat offices, one at the Trincomalee entrance and the other at the Horowpathana entrance. The whole area leading to Vavuniya and Seruwila will be brought under the development programme.
Anuradhapura Special Corr. Sarath Manulawickrema said that Minister Fowzie undertook an inspection tour of the area on February 12 along with Deputy Minister S. M. Chandrasena, Duminda Dissanayake, North Central Provincial Council Health Minister Gamage Weerasena, DG DWLC Dayananda Kariyawasam and Assistant Director DWLC Manjula Aramaratne and other officials. The proposed new Horowpathana National Park extends to Kantale Tank Bund on one side and to Kinniya in Trioncomalee on the other side.
Produced by Lake House