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Parks Beyond Borders: Sri Lanka National Parks, Nordic Grooming Fix in Canada's Yoho, Summer Ice Fall Closes Road In Jasper


Open grasslands make for great wildlife habitat in Sri Lanka's Uda Walawe National Park.

Sri Lanka’s Wildlife-Rich National Parks

The “unusual” Exotic Visitors website—where copy is written by often unnamed "contributors" but posted by the presumed blogger who has “hiked thousands of miles on the Appellation Trail”(!)—is another of the Internet’s obscure, copy-swapping sites fronting for commercial travel firms.

Nevertheless, they occasionally present an overview of interest.

This website recently offered a round up national parks in Sri Lanka credited to Suzi Saw. What Suzi Saw was an assortment of parks that “some Sri Lankan writers place ... at 50ish, while Wikipedia lists a more modest 14.” Sri Lanka “is covered in diverse pockets of protected wilderness, huge to tiny – and they’re packed with exotic wildlife”—which “begs to become the star attraction of a tailor-made safari holiday in Sri Lanka."

A shortlist:

Wilpattu National Park/ Northwest. Best for leopards, Sri Lankan elephants.

“Sri Lanka’s largest NP, Wilpattu covers just over 1.3 thousand sq km of dry lowlands, dense scrub jungle, and a unique network of over 50 wetland areas called “Villu”. These shallow natural lakes support Wilpattu’s ecosystem, filling with rainwater during monsoon season (Oct-Jan, in north & east Sri Lanka), and keeping the park’s inhabitants alive while the waters slowly dwindle throughout the May-Sept drought.”

Yala, aka Rahuna National Park / Southeast. Best for leopards, birds.

“Boasting one of the world’s densest leopard populations, Yala was once home to several of Sri Lanka’s ancient civilisations, but lay abandoned for centuries before becoming the first national park on Sri Lanka in 1900. It’s internationally classified as an “Important Bird Area”, protecting 215 bird species”

Minneriya National Park / Central North. Excellent for elephants.

“Deep in an area known (due to its concentration of ancient sites) as the Cultural Triangle, Minneriya sits alongside some of the most impressive ancient engineering you’ll ever see – a great rainwater reservoir, built in the 3rd century AD, around which up to 300 elephants cluster together in an annual phenomenon known as the ‘Elephant Gathering’”.

Uda Walawe (also Udawalawe) National Park / Central South. Easy elephant spotting & elephant orphanage

"Even casual visitors are virtually guaranteed to see an elephant at Uda Walawe, whose elephant population numbers around 500, with individual herds of up to 100. The park’s Elephant Transfer Home cares for around 40 orphans, attempting to release each of them back to their natural habitat. You also have an excellent chance of spotting numerous eagle species above the park."

Volunteers Get OK To Groom Yoho Nordic Ski Trails With Parks Canada Equipment

An August 11th article the Calgary Herald written by Colette Derworiz reported that “a one-year agreement has been reached to save some of the cross-country ski trails in Yoho National Park after business owners and local ski clubs volunteered to help out.”

The recreation service is just one among many expected to be dropped when the “federal government announced cuts that will affect 138 employees in Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Waterton Lakes national parks.”

The project cutbacks axed winter operation of the park “reception centre in Field, B.C.and the grooming of “cross-country ski trails in the community of Field and near Emerald Lake.”

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Parks Canada had, “reached an agreement to make the Parks Canada equipment available for use by local volunteers and businesses. ‘This agreement focuses on the Emerald Lake area,” said Kent, noting it restores about 15 kilometres worth of trails in Yoho National Park. “It’s about half of the track that we provided a year ago, but . . . it’s a terrific compromise.’”

Local businesses stepping up to help maintain the trails include “Emerald Lake Lodge, the Kicking Horse Ski Club and Emerald Sports and Gifts.” The Calgary paper reported that “Denise Toulouse, co-owner of Emerald Sports and Gifts, said ‘It’s a Band-Aid solution,’ noting the lodge, which did not return calls Friday, will hire someone to maintain the trails this winter.”

Other local interests were happy with the development but the community would have preferred that the decision simply be deferred for a year to give locals time to devise a broader solution.

Craig Chapman, community council chairman,said, “Parks Canada is definitely expecting businesses to do more and more.”

Ice Fall from Edith Cavell Closes Roads in Jasper National Park Canada

The Edmonton Journal reported that “an early morning icefall off the side of a Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park triggered flooding and damaged a road.” Parks Canada said the slide caused the “pond at the mountain’s base to flood parking lots, a road and a picnic area .. approximately 30 kilometres south of the town of Jasper.”

The paper said, “Cavell Road was closed from the Highway 93A intersection to the mountain, including trails, picnic areas and the nearby Mount Edith Cavell Hostel.”

This event was just one of many flooding and slide related problems caused by a lot of late winter snow followed by heavy rains.

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