Veddas  or Wanniyalaetto of Sri Lanka

Wanniyalaeto Sanctuary

Wanniyal-aetto father & son

On June 16th, 1990, President Premadasa and other high-level officials met in Kandy with a delegation of Wanniyalaeto leaders including chief Tissahamy to discuss longstanding grievances and measures required to address these grievances. Following the meeting, President Premadasa ordered prompt steps to be taken to reverse years of official injustice towards the indigenous community. Three days later, the President's Minister for Lands, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development, Mr. P. Dayaratna, recommended and later received Cabinet approval for the following two-fold course of action:

(i) Demarcate an area of approximately 1500 acres (covering Kotabakiniya, Keragoda, Buluganhadena and Kandeganwila villages), from the area gazetted as the Maduru Oya National Park, and declare this area as a Sanctuary under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.

(ii) Take specific measures to protect and nurture 'Veddha Wanni-etto' culture and establish a Trust or a Board for this purpose under the chairmanship of the Director of Wildlife Conservation with representation from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and other relevant state agencies and non-governmental organizations. 10

Under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, all traditional Wanniyalaeto occupations including hunting, honey-gathering and chena cultivation are prohibited within national parks, but 'limited human activities' are permitted within other areas defined as 'sanctuaries'. However, the four aforementioned Wanniyalaeto hamlets cannot be encompassed within 1500 acres only, nor can 1500 acres sustain more than a few families living by hunting and gathering supplemented by shifting cultivation. Moreover, no provision is included to accommodate families of evacuees who wish to return to their former habitat.

See these detailed maps: