Wilpattu and Social Media

How are the social media campaigns for Wilpattu faring so far?

Wilpattu is a beautiful national park in Sri Lanka that has been the home to many different species of flora and fauna until recently where it faced a massive threat of complete deforestation followed by deaths of the animals who had made this their natural habitat. Minster Rishard Badiudeen has been the centre of focus, controversy and allegations with regards to the matter for some time now. Even two years ago, in 2015, there were summons on the minister for the vandalism of Wilpattu national park.

There has been several social media campaigns that aim to stop the loss of spreading further and save whatever is left of this once beautiful land. How have they fared so far? Have they made any significant impact?

Wilpattu Facebook Community and #SaveWilpattu

Both of these pages aim to create awareness among people on what the situation is like in the fast deteriorating national park and what can be done about it. While the Facebook page has been updated and is functioning with their last update coming from the 18th of November with regards to a TV talk show on Sirasa, the Twitter hashtag has not seen any activity since last year unfortunately.

Protect Wilpattu Facebook page and #protectvilpattus

Over 35k people follow and like this community on Facebook that aims to save Wilpattu and bring to light the parties behind its destruction. However, the last update has been done on the 25th of August and the hashtag does not seem to be working anymore.

Protect Wilpattu (Together for Wilpattu) Facebook page and #protectvilpattu

Over 126k people follow and like this community that seems to be functioning regularly with their hashtag active as well. Their latest effort is to be in the form of a protest on the 14th December at 2pm at the Victoria Park premises in Colombo. On Twitter, various users seem to be getting signatures of others on petitions hoping to stop the destruction of the national park.

These are just three of the many groups that are available on Facebook and Twitter dedicated to the cause of saving Wilpattu. How effective are they? After going through the posts, discussions and shares that the communities have received, it would be safe to say that the effectiveness is unfortunately nothing impressive. Many of the groups do not update on a regular basis, perhaps, because there is nothing to be updated given that the government seems to be rather nonchalant about the whole matter.

The truth of the matter remains that the authorities in power need to stop the deforestation. On many occasions Badiudeen has stated that he has nothing to do with the deforestation and that it is the responsibility of the government. Of course a lot of awareness has been generated via social media and the role of this is pivotal but can social media actually bring about a revolutionary change that will compel the government to interfere and save this valuable national treasure? That is a question, that is difficult to answer.

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