In recent months, the amount of wildlife being run over by cars has increased in Sri Lanka’s Yala Park, a jungle safari national park and wildlife sanctuary in the country’s Southern Province. Protected leopards, elephants, bears, and deer have all been victims in these incidents.
Park rangers believe that the rise in animal fatalities is due to cell phone communications. When tourists report an animal’s whereabouts via cell phones, other visitors rush to the scene with hopes of getting a glimpse. But rangers worry that this eagerness to get to the site of the sighting is what is causing all of these accidents.
Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest national park with over 100,000 visitors a year. In addition, Yale Park is a conservation haven for leopards.
In response to the rise of animal/car collisions, the Department of Wildlife has asked mobile phone service providers to block the cell service within the park during the peak hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. in order to help guard the location of wildlife. On Monday, July 13, the country’s telecommunications regulator agreed to the request. The Department of Wildlife is also banning the use of cell phones during those hours; however, that is difficult to regulate.
Still TBD: Will these measures actually succeed in protecting wildlife? If so, should other parks in other countries consider following suit?