The Yala National Park is the second largest national and the most popular park in Sri Lanka with over 900,000 visitors a year. Due to the popularity of the park as a destination for elephant, leopard sightings and much more, visitation to Yala by both local and foreign tourists, has been on the increase. However, The influx of visitors and their behavior has created increased disturbances for the wildlife that are found within. Over visitation has reached a critical level and this is now affecting the natural behavior of wildlife while obstructing their right to roam free within the park. Discipline of drivers has decreased due to high competition among parties to give the best sighting for their clients.
The deteriorating condition of Yala National Park came to the notice of Mr. Ranjith Pandithage who decided to implement a project to provide a low emission, low noise 4WD high performance TATA Xenon for the purpose of law enforcement and visitor management activities in order to reduce the negative impacts on the flora, fauna and wildlife of the Park. This would be the first time a project of this caliber was done with the private sector for Yala National Park.
A brand new TATA Xenon was modified by DIMO’s Service Team headed by Mr. Mahesh Karunaratne to handle any situation that it may come across in the Park. Branded as RANGER ONE the commitment of DIMO is conveyed through the simple and eloquent tagline “Care for Nature. Preserve our Future”.
The responsibilities of the Department of Wildlife Conservation includes assigning a team to conduct law enforcement and visitor management activities of the park whilst the Environmental Foundation Limited is responsible for the coordination, monitoring and reporting of all law enforcement activities done with the use of the vehicle by the Security team. Chaaya Wild Yala (subsidiary of John Keells Holdings) was bought in to supply fuel for the vehicle and to service and maintain the vehicle according to DIMO’s specifications.
The Ceremony for the handover of the vehicle to the Hon. Minister of Wildlife Conservation, Gamini Vijithamuni De Soyza took place on 31st March 2013 at the entrance of Yala National Park. An MOU was signed to ensure that the responsibilities of each Party was clearly communicated and accountability is assured.
DIMO Tribe Members at the ceremony included Mr. Ranjith Pandithage (Chairman & Managing Director), Mr. Vijitha Bandara (General Manager TATA Division), Mr. Mahesh Karunaratne (General Manager TATA Commercial Service), Prabodha Silva, (Business Development Manager) & Kasun Nammuni, (Business Development Executive).
Also Honorable Gamini Vijithamuni De Soyza (Minister), Mr. Charitha Wijesekara (Secretary) & Mr. H.T. Rathnayake (Director General) of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Mr. Jayantissa Kahelpannala (Executive Vice President) & Mr. Chithral Jayatilake (Assistant Vice President) of John Keells Holdings, Mr. Rukshan Jayawardane (Director) & Mr. Vimukthi Weerathunga (Operations Director) of EFL also graced the event.