to get lost to leran the way

12 september 2018

Yala National Park

The Yala National Park is the most visited park in Sri Lanka. In 2002 around 156,867 tourists visited the park. Foreigners, especially Europeans, account for 30% of total visitors. Block I is the main area for visits. Block III (main gate in Galge area, on Buttala-Kataragama Road) and the adjoining Kumana Park or ‘Yala East’ (main gate at Okanda, on the east coast not far from Pottuvil) however are becoming popular in their own right too. See Note that the Situlpahuwa pilgrimage site, geographically in Block III, has kind of an ‘enclave’ status and is accessible FOC through separate roads from Tissa and Kataragama. Most of the visitors stated that reasons for their visit is to see wild animals, and elephant is the most preferred animal. The visitors like to see bears, leopards, birds as well. In 2000 the income from visitors including lodge fees was approximately US$468,629. Due to security conditions revenue was lost. The Yala National Park has been susceptible to terrorist attacks. On 17 October 2007 a group of LTTE cadres attacked an army detachment in Thalgasmankada in the park. The attack killed six army soldiers and another was caught up in a landmine explosion. On 11 July 2008 four people died in an attack launched by the LTTE. The cadres opened fire at a bus carrying pilgrims to Kataragama.

Since the end of the civil war, May 2009, no violence has occurred in Yala area also and it is fully safe for visitors; this was also the main factor in opening blocks III and V for tourists. From January to June in 2008, 9,078 local tourists and 7,532 foreigners have visited Yala. For the same period of time in 2009 the arrivals have risen to 18,031 locals and foreigners to 10,439. Accordingly the revenue increased to Rs. 27 millions (US$235,000) in 2009 from Rs. 16.6 millions (US$154,000) in 2008. The visitors are allowed to see the wild animals from 5.30 am to 6.30 pm. Due to droughts the park used to be closed to tourists from 1 September, to 15 October annually; however in 2009 and 2010 the closure was skipped and lakes filled with water bowsers for drinking water for the animals, a future strategy on drought handling is not yet clear.