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Discover the Wonders of Wilpattu National Park via Wildlife Streaming



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

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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Earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027 – Dr Bandula Gunawardena




Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media Dr Bandula Gunawardena at a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Center today (30) said that the earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027, at which time it is envisaged that the countries foreign reserves which stand at USD 3.5 billion at present would increase to USD 14 billion..


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Pope Francis to evict Cardinal Raymond Burke from Vatican




US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been a leader in the Catholic Church for decades (BBC)

Pope Francis is evicting US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary.

Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

A Vatican source told the BBC that Pope Francis has not yet carried out his intention to evict the 75-year-old and the decision is not meant as a personal punishment, the source added. Instead, it comes from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticising the head of the church.

Still, the move is “unprecedented in the Francis era”, Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC. “Typically, retired cardinals continue to reside in Rome after stepping down from their positions, often remaining active in papal liturgies and ceremonial duties,” he said. “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.”

White warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.

Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news and the BBC has reached out to his office for comment.

The Pope revealed his plan to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week. His frustration with US detractors who take a more traditional or conservative view on several issues appears to be coming to a boil.

Earlier this month, he fired Joseph Strickland, a conservative Texas bishop who had blasted his attempts to move the church to more liberal positions on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage. The removal followed a church investigation into governance of the diocese.

A few months before, the Pope told members of the Jesuit religious order in Portugal that there was “a very strong, organised, reactionary attitude in the US church”, which he called “backward”, according to the Guardian.

Tensions with Cardinal Burke, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, have been simmering for nearly a decade, with the American prelate openly criticising Pope Francis over both social and liturgical issues.

“Cardinal Burke’s situation seems to stem from his gradual alienation from the Pope,” said  White. “It appears the Pope perceives Burke as fostering a cult of personality, centred around traditionalism or regressive ideals. This action seems aimed at limiting Burke’s influence by severing his ties to Rome.”

Pope Francis with hand up in front of Vatican building
Pope Francis waves to crowds while leaving St Peter’s Square (pic BBC)

Most recently, the cardinal held a conference called The Synodal Babel in Rome on the eve of the Pope’s synod, or meeting of bishops, last month.

He also joined fellow conservatives in publishing a “declaration of truths” in 2019 that described the Catholic church as disoriented and confused under Pope Francis, saying that it had moved away from core teachings on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender. Notably, he disagreed with the Pope promoting Covid vaccines.

Within church politics, he and Pope Francis were at odds over the firing of the head of the Knights of Malta after the order’s charity branch was found to have distributed condoms in Myanmar.

The Pope, in turn, has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years.

Michael Matt, a columnist for the right-wing Catholic newspaper The Remnant, wrote that the most recent action taken against Cardinal Burke showed that Pope Francis was “cancelling faithful prelates who offer hierarchical cover to pro-life, pro-family, pro-tradition hardliners”. He accused the Pope of putting critics into “forced isolation”.


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Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100




Henry Kissinger at the State Department's 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut but did not give a cause of death.

During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy in two administrations.


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