Animals have sixth sense
By Priyanwada Ranawaka
The Yala National Park, Yala East National Park (Okala) and Bundala National Park have been affected by the tsunami disaster. But officials of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) say they have no evidence of animals being killed by the wave within the park.

Deputy Director, Law Enforcement and Field Operations, H.T.S. Fernando says, "Animals must have sensed the danger before it occurred and withdrawn from those particular areas.

"When I visited the park on the 26th afternoon, we sighted no animals in the coastal areas. But we spotted many animals on high ground, like hilltops and cliffs. Other than dead fish, there were no carcasses found."

The park habitat though has been destroyed, Mr Fernando said. According to eyewitnesses, the tidal waves hitting areas of the park had been over 40 feet high, coming in as much as two miles inland.

"Park roads are badly damaged, making it difficult to carry out rescue operations," Mr Fernando said adding that wildlife officials are now working with the army to rectify the situation. The banks of the Yala wewa are destroyed and the area is flooded. Patanangala is the most affected and the bungalow there has been destroyed, he said.

That the park animals are safe has come as a huge relief to many wildlife lovers. "Animals seem to have a sixth sense in the case of impending disasters," affirms Jayantha Jayawardena, elephant expert and managing trustee of the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust, relating how people at Hambantota had told him how even dogs in the area had behaved strangely before the tsunami.

There were many reports of dogs howling and showing signs of distress hours before the killer wave struck, he said. Veteran wildlife photographer Nihal Fernando recalls that many years ago in the jungle a visitor had seen a tremendous upheaval with animals fleeing before a mild earthquake occurred. "All animals obviously have a sixth sense," he said.

It seems land animals are not the only ones with sixth sense. Dr. Arunachalam Kumar writing to the Natural History of South Asia network states:

"My observations confirmed over the years, mass suicides of whales and dolphins that occur sporadically all over the world, are in some way related to changes and disturbances in the electro-magnetic field coordinates and possible realignments of geotectonic plates thereof.

"Tracking the dates and plotting the locales of tremors and earthquakes, I am reasonably certain that major earthquakes usually follow within a week or two of mass beaching of cetaceans.

"The inter-relationship between the unusual 'death-wish' of pods of whales and its inevitable aftermath, the earthquake, may need a further impassioned and unbiased looking into."

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