[Images of an endangered female sloth bear killed by a speeding trunk in Wilpattu National Park can be found here. Some may find the images disturbing.]
It is true that a country needs good roads and highways for the economic development. But short-vision road projects such as these, without the proper planning to mitigate environmental issues, will bring disaster to the long-term sustainability of Sri Lanka's eco-tourism. The "Pearl of the Indian Ocean" is in immediate danger of losing its critically endangered species, the Sri Lanka leopard and sloth bear, which many eco-tourists from around the world come to visit. For each species, less than 500 individuals remain, and populations are declining rapidly due to road-strikes and habitat loss.
The threats to Sri Lanka's wildlife go beyond roads and highways. A new international airport, funded by another Chinese government loan, opened in a prime elephant habitat. The area, also a bird migration route, adjoins some of the best national parks in the country's deep south. Although only a handful of airlines use it, due to lack of passenger demand in this remote region, these few airplanes have already experienced several accidents with birds, including a large flock of peacocks. Following these incidents, the military shot down many of these peacocks -- which, incidentally, is the symbol of the Sri Lankan Airlines.