Sri Lanka to relocate elephants for games

13:48, July 07, 2011      

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Sri Lanka is to relocate over 200 wild elephants to construct a new airport and massive games city in the south of the country to host a sporting event, a minister said Thursday.

Sri Lanka is bidding to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Hambantota and if selected a massive games city will be constructed at the selected location which borders a national park.

"Some 200 elephants will be relocated from parts of Hambantota where the massive development is expected to take place and they will be shifted to Weheragala in Monaragala situated 60 kilometers from Hambantota," Minister of Agrarian Services and Wildlife S.M. Chandrasena said.

A Sri Lankan environmental group said it will strongly protest the move as shifting the elephants will affect their natural habitat.

Banduranga Kariyawasam of the Green Campaign of Sri Lanka told Xinhua that Sri Lanka has already begun constructing the new airport in the area and the runway of the airport goes between an elephant corridor.

Kariyawasam said environmental groups are preparing to go to courts against the environmental impact being created by the construction of the games city.

However an official who is part of the team involved in bidding for the games to be held in Sri Lanka insisted that a full environmental assessment has been made on the games venue.

A delegation from the Commonwealth Federation was Sri Lanka last week to evaluate Sri Lanka's bid for the 2018 games. Australia's Gold Coast is the other city bidding to host the games.

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