The park is 6200 hectares and is famous for its elephant population attracting loads of visitors during the dry season. In 2017 the income generated was Rs 250 million and this year’s income is expected to exceed that.
Based on the location of the park, around 500-600 elephants could be seen a day.
Due to the vast grazing areas within the park, the number of wild elephants frequenting the park is high. With the large number of tourists visiting the park and the income generated the tourism related businesses in the Polonnaruwa area is flourishing. Hence, the number of locals engaged in the tourism industry is also far higher than the other areas in the country.
However, due to the releasing of cattle into the wildlife park, the grazing grounds of the elephants has been invaded and consumed by the cattle, forcing the elephants to encroach into nearby villages in search of food.
Therefore, Hettiarachchi pointed out that if the elephants’ habitat is preserved the human elephant conflict could be avoided. He noted that it is the responsibility of everyone to preserve the environment as the existence of humans too depends on the environment.
Pics by W.A. Piyatillake – Hingurakgoda Corr.