Far from me to be a foreteller of doom and gloom, but I have to say that last year, when we were wrapping up our final weeks of filming in the glorious wilderness of Wasgamuwa National Park in central Sri Lanka, amid that slightly weightless feeling of being completely at peace with your surroundings, I commented, "this is too good to be true."
On our search for evasive Sloth Bears, we had witnessed the hand of Man wreaking havoc on part of the reserve, when a slash-and-burn fire from a farm on the park's boundaries had blown out of control and rendered huge swathes of the park into a lifeless, blackened wasteland. Of course the Earth eventually heals herself, as she did after the fire, but today I fear the outcome will be very different...
I've just heard from my uncle over in Sri Lanka, who is actively involved in wildlife conservation, that the government has given the go ahead to build a dam within Wasgamuwa, and along with it, will be installing a hundred or so families in the vicinity. I dread to think what is to follow. The repercussions for the wildlife will be devastating. The park already exists on a fine balance - throw in a bunch of humans and lets see what happens.
From what I understand the plan has yet to be implemented, and a campaign organized by wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists is about to ensue. More news as it follows.
I once half-joked to someone regarding my Sloth Bear documentary, that I hoped it would never become an epitaph for something that was now lost to the country - and that included the animals and their habitat.
Nothing to laugh about now.
Wasgamuwa - as it was when we were there