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Discover the Wonders of Wilpattu National Park via Wildlife Streaming

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The Wilpattu National Park goes live on 24 and 26 September with the ‘Couch Safari’ which takes viewers on a wildlife streaming tour of Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national park, allowing them to experience the wonders of Wilpattu from the safety of their homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has indefinitely postponed travel plans for many tourists and Sri Lankans alike. Sri Lanka Tourism and the Department of Wildlife and Conservation together with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH teamed up to design this initiative with the aim of promoting Sri Lanka’s wildlife to the world whilst offering a glimpse of what awaits them, once it is safe to travel again.

“In a time where most travel plans are put on hold, we are excited to showcase our national parks to the world once again via “couch safari” by partnering up with GIZ and the Department of Wildlife and Conservation,” said Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Kimarli Fernando.

With the successful completion of the novel ‘Couch Safari’ initiative by Sri Lanka Tourism, the team behind this project hopes to showcase what Wilpattu National Park holds in store for the viewers, who can enjoy Sri Lanka’s amazing wildlife from the safety of their homes. Presented by wildlife experts in Sri Lanka, the first live streaming of Wilpattu National Park is scheduled on 24th September 2021 4.00 PM- 5.00 PM IST (+5.30 GMT) and the second live streaming on 26th September 2021 7.30AM -8.30- AM IST (+5.30 GMT). Viewers can tune into the live stream via www.facebook.com/GIZSriLanka.

The project “Supporting Wilpattu National Park and Influence Zone Management in Sri Lanka” is implemented by the Department of Wildlife Conservation of the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project combines the conservation efforts within the Wilpattu National Park with the sustainable development of its influence zones. The project aims to improve Wilpattu National Park’s management capacity with emphasis on the Park Operations, Environmental and Visitor Use Programmes, in technical and specialist terms, in support of the Wilpattu National Park Management Plan (2019-2024).

Wilpattu National Park is located 30 km west of Anuradhapura and is well known among local and foreign visitors as one of the best places to watch the elusive and charismatic largest cat of Sri Lanka; the Leopard. It is one of the oldest and largest national parks declared in 1938, covering an extent of 131,693 hectares. The Park is known for its archeological heritage but much of the archeological evidence is taken over by the jungles. Out of all the ecological features of Wilpattu, the natural water holes identified as Villus are very unique to the park as these water pools cannot be found anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Villus are the main scenic attraction and animal activities around it enhance the value of this unique habitat of Wilpattu. Wilpattu National Park has recorded some 605 flowering plant species harboring rich floristic heritage of the dry zone flora of Sri Lanka. A total of 41 species of mammals have been recorded in Wilpattu, 149 species of birds, 17 species of amphibians and 57 species of reptiles. Venomous snakes such as vipers, cobras, and kraits as well as the rare and near threatened Chameleon lizard are also recorded from the scrub habitats of Wilpattu.

Join the Couch Safari and experience Wilpattu National Park from your home, as wildlife experts explain the mysteries of the land and its creatures in this exciting wildlife escapade.



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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine

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Industry leader has sought court intervention

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.

Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.

Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.

Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.

The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.

Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.

In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”

The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.

Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.

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Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).

The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most  scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.

Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.

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President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today

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by Saman Indrajith

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).

He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.

The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.

To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.

Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.

At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.

The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.

Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.

After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).

Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

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