Minister CB Ratnayake, who is on a private visit to Kenya, met with Kenyan Minister for Wildlife and Tourism Najib Balala on September 14, 2021. Minister Ratnayake was accompanied to Kenya by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Velupillai Kananathan.
Minister Balala welcomed the Sri Lankan minister, saying that the two countries share many similarities, particularly in terms of wildlife and forest resources, as well as national strategies for marketing these resources through economic activities such as international tourism. Minister Ratnayake stated that his ministry’s mission is to conserve wildlife and forest resources in Sri Lanka in accordance with local and international practices and laws, adding that wildlife is one of the top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Minister Ratnayake praised the successful management of biodiversity through the protection of wildlife and forest resources in Kenya and expressed the hope that Sri Lanka could benefit from Kenya’s experience and knowledge in these areas as part of a bilateral program. The Kenyan minister replied positively, saying that Kenya could also benefit from the Sri Lankan wildlife and experiences conservation program.
Minister Ratnayake proposed bilateral activities, in particular capacity building in the field of conservation and management in Sri Lanka and Kenya, depending on the level of expertise that could be shared. The Sri Lankan Minister specifically mentioned activities such as wildlife officer training, wildlife park management, technology sharing, wildlife health, human-elephant conflict resolution, habitat enrichment, etc. to share knowledge and experience with Kenya. The Kenyan minister replied that Kenya might consider sharing information on Kenya’s wildlife tourism, training Sri Lankan wildlife officers in Kenya and, if necessary, helping to set up a wildlife training institute in Sri Lanka and other wildlife areas. The two ministers also discussed the possibilities of exchanging animals in their respective zoological gardens.
High Commissioner Kananathan said the five decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries had expanded to include many areas of cooperation over the years, and suggested that bilateral wildlife conservation cooperation would create a win-win situation. The High Commissioner further said that the two countries should make maximum use of Sri Lankan Airlines’ direct air route between Colombo and Nairobi to create many prospects of cooperation, including technical cooperation on wildlife, promotion of tourism, trade, des Contacts between people and the building aid capacities in areas of common interest.
Minister Ratnayake emphasized to the Kenyan minister the importance of promoting ecotourism between Sri Lanka and Kenya. In addition, both ministers discussed and exchanged the experiences of both countries about the animal exchange programs, the control of inhabited animal hospitals and the training of rangers between the two countries.
In this regard, both ministers decided to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on the development of tourism and wildlife. Ministers agreed to continue their talks in order to achieve practical and mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.
Sri Lanka High Commission