Minister C.B. Ratnayake, who is on a private visit to Kenya met the Kenyan Minister for Wildlife and Tourism Najib Balala on 14 September, 2021. Minister Ratnayake was accompanied by High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Kenya Velupillai Kananathan.
Minister Balala welcomed the Sri Lankan Minister and said that the two countries have many similarities particularly in terms of wildlife and forest resources as well as national strategies to market those resources through economic activities such as international tourism. Minister Ratnayake explained that his Ministry’s mandate is to conserve wildlife and forest resources in Sri Lanka in conformity with the local and international practices and laws and added that wildlife is one of the major attractions for tourism in Sri Lanka. Minister Ratnayake while appreciating the successful nurturing of the biodiversity through conservation of wildlife and forest resources in Kenya, expressed hope that Sri Lanka could benefit from Kenya’s experience and knowledge in those areas under a bilateral programme. The Kenyan Minister responded positively saying that Kenya could also benefit from Sri Lanka’s conservation programme on natural environment of wildlife and experience.
Minister Ratnayake proposed bilateral activities in particular capacity building in wildlife conservation and management in Sri Lanka and Kenya as per the level of expertise that could be shared with each other. The Sri Lankan Minister specifically mentioned activities such as training for wildlife officials, wildlife park management, exchange of technology, wildlife health care, measures to resolve human–elephant conflict, habitat enrichment etc., as some the areas on which Sri Lanka would be happy to share knowledge and experience with Kenya. The Kenyan Minister replied saying that Kenya could consider sharing information on Kenya’s wildlife tourism, training for Sri Lankan wildlife officials in Kenya, help setting up of a wildlife training institute in Sri Lanka and in other areas of wildlife as required. The two Ministers also discussed about the possibilities of exchanging animals to their respective zoological gardens.
High Commissioner Kananathan said that the five decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries have over the years expanded into many areas of cooperation, and suggested that bilateral cooperation in the field of wildlife conservation will create a win-win situation. The High Commissioner further said that the two countries should make maximum use of the direct air connectivity between Colombo and Nairobi by Sri Lankan Airlines to create many vistas of cooperation including technical cooperation in wildlife, promotion of tourism, trade, people to people contact and capacity building assistance in common areas of interest.
Minister Ratnayake emphasized to the Kenyan Minister the importance of promoting Eco tourism between Sri Lanka and Kenya. Further, both Ministers discussed and sharing the experience of both countries on the animal exchange programmes, controlling over habited, Animal Hospitals facilities, and the training of the rangers between both countries.
In this respect both the Ministers decided to develop an MOU between both countries in developing the tourism and the wildlife. The Ministers agreed to continue their conversation for reaching a practical and mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.
High Commission of Sri Lanka
15 September, 2021