FRAMEWORK FOR CONSERVATION OF THE VICTORIA, RANDENIGALA, RANTEBE SANCTUARY
Mahaweli Authority, Polgolla
More than fifty sanctuaries have been declared in Sri Lanka to date. Of
these, the Victoria, Randenigala, Rantembe (VRR) sanctuary is unique in
three aspects. Firstly, it is the largest among the sanctuaries declared
so far with an extent of 42,088.8 ha.. Secondly, it includes three reservoirs/
dams built across the Mahaweli river, viz., Victoria, Randenigala and
Rantembe, thus parts of the three watersheds fall within the sanctuary
boundary. Thirdly it has diverse habitats which change significantly during
the year as a result of climate changes and availability of water in the
VRR sanctuary was declared on 30 January 1987. Subsequently the idea of
a core area surfaced and a number of families were evacuated and settled
elsewhere. The Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance does not envisage
development activities in the private lands. Also, there are settlements
created by the Mahaweli inside the sanctuary. Further, these lands were
used for shifting cultivation before the sanctuary was declared. Thus
socio economical issues have developed over the years.
On the other hand, rather than policing the area and enforcing the Flora
and Fauna Protection Ordinance, the Department of Wild Life Conservation
does not posses a clearly defined conservation plan for the VRR sanctuary.
The paper elaborates the socio economical and ecological issues evident
to date and provides a conceptual framework for the conservation of the
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1999. All rights reserved.