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Sri Lanka accords priority to Fauna and Flora Protection 

The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Wildlife and Forest Conservation gave its approval to amend the Fauna and Flora Protection (Amendment) Bill in Parliament for the second reading.

The Bill empowers the Minister to make orders to enforce the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Ministerial Consultative Committee met on Thursday under the chairmanship of Minister C.B. Ratnayake and State Minister of Wildlife Protection.

Adoption of Safety Measures including the Construction of Electrical Fences and Trenches was highlighted by Reforestation and Forest Resource Development Wimalaweera Dissanayake.

Secretary to the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation Somarathna Vidanapathirana said this amendment, which also takes into account the GSP concession, has been under discussion for nearly 15 years and was finally able to come into force.
Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa who attended the CC meeting said the Ministry should work towards developing eco-tourism to increase foreign visitors and requested the Department of Wildlife Conservation to introduce more attractive programs.

These are the setting up of leopard centers in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism. Minister Ratnayake instructed the officials to take necessary steps in this regard as well as to take steps towards establishing a Leopard Center at the Training Center of the Polonnaruwa Wildlife Conservation Department.

Premadasa also spoke on the need to make permanent volunteers who have served for many years and have not been made permanent. The Minister instructed the officials to look into the matter immediately and take necessary action.

Several MPs also told the Committee that the Yala National Park being closed for two hours during the day, causes an inconvenience to tourists. Officials were thus instructed to reduce the daytime park closure to one hour by the State Minister.

He also instructed the officials to take maximum measures to ensure the safety of wildlife.MPs also drew the attention of the Minister to a number of issues such as the human-elephant conflict, the construction of elephant fences and the concerns pertaining to the national parks.

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