WILDLIFE conservation


Plants and animal species, as well as their habitats, are protected through wildlife conservation. Wildlife, as a cornerstone of the world’s ecosystems, contributes to the balance and stability of natural phenomena. Wildlife conservation aims to ensure the survival of these species while also educating people on how to live in harmony with other species.

Over the last 200 years, the human population has increased tremendously, reaching more than seven billion people now, and it continues to do so. This means that the world’s natural resources are being depleted at a faster rate than ever before. The habitats and existence of numerous forms of wildlife around the world are also threatened by this growth and development, notably animals and plants that may be displaced for land development or consumed for food or other human reasons. Invasive species from other regions of the world, climate change, pollution, hunting, fishing, and poaching are among the numerous challenges to wildlife.

On a variety of fronts, national and international organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the United Nations promote global animal and habitat conservation activities.

 They collaborate with the government to create and safeguard public lands such as national parks and wildlife refuges. They assist in the creation of legislation to protect diverse species, such as FAUNA AND FLORA PROTECTION (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 22 OF 2009 in Sri Lanka.  Wildlife crimes, such as wildlife trafficking and illegal hunting, are prosecuted in collaboration with law enforcement (poaching). They also encourage biodiversity in order to meet the needs of an expanding human population while also protecting current species and habitats.

Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity is safeguarded by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No. 2 of 1937 provides legal protection to particular species. A network of Protected Areas protects habitats and the species they support. The requirements of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, as well as the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, are used to regulate international trade of wild species (CITES).

Conservation Areas

Sri Lanka’s conservation areas are critical for conservation of biodiversity. Some species are being pushed into vulnerable status when habitats shrink and perish due to increasing human population expansion, development projects, and urbanisation. Inside the protected zones, human intervention is forbidden or restricted. As a result, these regions serve as wildlife refuges by providing perfect environment for their survival. Protected areas safeguard environmental services as well as cultural and historical sites. Furthermore, these regions serve as reference points for monitoring changes in the environment as a result of human activity. In Sri Lanka, the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Forest Department are in charge of protected areas.

Classification of Protected Areas according to Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance

  1. Strict Natural Reserve – 03
  2. National Park – 25
  3. Nature Reserve – 09
  4. Jungle Corridor – 02
  5. Marine National Park – 01
  6. Marine Reserves – 00
  7. Buffer zone – 00
  8. Sanctuary or a Managed Elephant Reserve – 68 +1

Strict Natural Reserve (SNR)

Three (03) Strict Natural Reserves have been declared under the provisions of Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance. (Haggala, Yala and Ritigala). As 1a of IUCN protected area category (Strict Nature Reserve), human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited in these areas to ensure protection of the conservation values. These areas are reference areas for monitoring of changes in outside due to the human impact and create unique habitats for endemic species (Point endemic). Entering into the SNR is prohibited but it is not restricted for the purpose of discharging any official duty or authorised scientific research. Both purposes can be deployed along with the permission of the Director General of Department of Wildlife Conservation.

National Park

Twenty Eight (25) National Parks have scattered throughout the country by providing scientific, educational, recreational and aesthetic opportunities to visitors. These areas are declared under the provisions of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Visitors are allowed to enter the national park with permits in accordance with the conditions, issued by prescribed officer of Department of Wildlife Conservation on the payment of the prescribed fee. Yala and Wilpattuwa are the older National Parks of the country. Yala, Wilpattu, Horton plains and Udawalawa are the most visited national parks of the country. National parks such as Maduruoya, Udawalawa and Galoya were declared for the purposes of protection of catchment areas and to provide habitats for displaced animals due to the huge irrigation projects. Definition of National park is compatible with the category II of protected areas introduced by IUCN.

Nature Reserve


Nine (9) areas of state lands of the country have been declared as nature reserves under the provisions of the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance to preserve their natural conditions. Entering without a permit or carried out any harmful activity inside a nature reserve is prohibited. Therefore human influence has minimized in these areas and allowed to retain their natural characters as protected area category 1b of IUCN ( Wilderness Area).

Jungle Corridor

Today we face severe problems due to habitat fragmentation. Therefore declaration of jungle corridors is a good solution to facilitate the movements of animals between protected areas. Also, it is very important to reduce the inbreeding depression of a population and thereby contribute to a stable population. Two (02) jungle corridors were declared under the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance so far. (Kavuulla – Minneriya and Nelugala)

Marine National Park

Legal provisions of a Marine National Park are almost similar to a National park declared under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Visitors are allowed to enter marine national parks to observe and study the fauna and flora. But any activity that has been carried out by law or custom or usage, or traditional practice before the establishment of the Marine National Park are allowed by imposing conditions. Adam’s bridge was declared as the 1st Marine National Park in Sri Lanka under the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.

Marine Reserves

A Marine reserve is a kind of marine protected area that has not been declared so far, under the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection ordinance.

Buffer zone

A buffer zone has to be comprised of state-owned lands; that extend from the outer border of the national park. It provides better protection and minimized the human influence on National Park. No buffer zone has been declared so far. However, the human influence on the national park has been curtailed, according to section 9A of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.

Sanctuary or a Managed Elephant Reserve

An area declared to be a sanctuary or managed elephant reserve may include both state land and other than state lands. Some activities have been prohibited even on private land within a sanctuary. 68 sanctuaries including 1 Manage Elephant Reserve have been declared so far.