Cattle ranchers take Wanniyala-Aetto land

August 16, 2005

This page was created in 2005 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Ranchers are illegally grazing their cattle on the forest land of the Wanniyala-Aetto people. The Wanniyala-Aetto were evicted from their land by the Sri Lankan government in 1983 when it was made into the Maduru Oya National Park. Many wish to return. Unable to survive on the small plots of land given to them by the government, the Wanniyala-Aetto still visit their land to hunt animals and gather food and medicinal plants. When caught, they face heavy fines or imprisonment. Three men have been shot dead in recent years by park guards.

The cattle are damaging the Wanniyala-Aetto's forest, yet the government is doing nothing to stop the ranchers.