Eco Tourism and Responsibilities


Once I was passing Galle, I saw a large gathering who is watching some different kind of a game. I identified both local and foreign players playing elephant-polo with assistance of mahouts. That game seemed funny, because some of the elephants were not aware what was going on but mahouts had to drag them to the ball and do according to so called players’ wish. Some elephants were seen exhausted and frustrated. Anyway, I was thinking this is a very inappropriate try. We should not drag our majestic looking elephants to this pathetic situation. Elephant is a cultural symbol and I don’t like to see it as a funny puppet. So this was my vision on Elephant Polo.

After sometime back I heard that an elephant had become so violent during such a game at Galle. This simply supplied a proof that Elephants were actually not playing the game but they had been forcefully dragged to the ground. This is not the way we should treat wild animals. I guess, after this incident Elephant-Polo wasn’t tried. (Please correct me if I am wrong) So this should be taken as a warning message for people who think of ways to use animals to earn some dollars by the sake of eco-tourism.

Elephant is giving its message in a violent manner!



Eco-tourism is a very good trend which can be used to protect wildlife while enabling people to enjoy the nature as it is. I find it as a very sensitive trade. If you do it wisely everybody could get advantages.

Sri Lanka is now targeting a rise of tourist industry and there is a big room for eco-tourism. Sri Lanka is one of the best places to earn a big money if you invest in that area and a lot of service providers are already doing their operations. Apart from earning money, eco-tourism should contribute towards conservation of wildlife and betterment of the native people of the country. It should not challenge the social and cultural values of a society. Authorities should be aware of this.

Kandalama hotel has been built in a catchment area. According to our culture based on Weva*, catchment area is a most protected place and it was allowed only to collect medicinal plants by Wedamahaththaya/doctor. Kandalama hotel itself is being operated in very nature-friendly manner as they say, but it doesn’t payback the cost of disturbing a catchment area of a Weva by a massive construction, for the first time in the history. Before building the hotel, it was a heritage of all, but now it has become a private property, only moneyed people can access.

Just like Kandalama Weva, when it come the need of infra-structure for eco-tourism, a lot of heritages of common people are to be converted to private properties, but authorities are to be wise enough to maintain a sustainable level.

Weva* - Weva is translated to English as a “tank”. In Sinhala, Weva is a physical structure that bound to a whole domain of cultural activities and values. But in English, Tank is just a physical structure. We should challenge this inaccurate translation.



Kirigalpoththa said...

Very good post! - Both stories remind us that when you deal with nature (flora or fauna) it has to be done with utmost care.

Sudheera said...

Valuable post that alerts the community. I totally agree with your view. These innocent animals should not be used to earn money for greedy dollar earners.
But the worse thing is in Sri Lanka, these kind of activities are implementing without a proper analyzing and well trained. For the rising tourism industry, these kind of activities are important to attract the tourists. But our people are used it wrongly. For an example, in Thailand such activities are performed with well disciplined. Elephants are an important part of Thai culture and the Thai way of life. They are traditional symbol of royal power and crucial feature of Buddhist Art and Architecture.
Any way elephant related activities (Elephant Riding, Elephant Trekking, Elephant Polo, etc…) are playing a key role to attract the tourist to Thailand. The important thing is they use this manner wisely. Our people should learn it.

sumedha Obeysekera said...

Thanks Pals..

I guess, this is to be taken in to serious consideration before we are too late.

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