Jungle loving President Premadasa

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By 2018-01-21

By Udeni Saman Kumara

The year-end holidays were fast ending. As during the holidays, both Christmas and New Year vacations were on, the country's political and judicial circles were on an extended break as usual.

If not for the Local Government polls those running the country would have been missing in action, so to say.
Some Ministers and MPs, who hardly venture out to places such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa or Kataragama areas during such vacation periods, promptly emplane to countries such as Thailand, Maldives or Singapore, when they get such extended holidays.
They do so not with their families and from the resources provided by their ministries.

There are also plenty of Ministry Secretaries and government officials who are ready and willing to provide such resources to these ministers and MPs even at the expense of cancelling development projects.

In the photograph is former President R. Premadasa. Here I would like to bring to focus and attention a few details that were not publicized during his lifetime. The former leader was a good photographer himself and he also loved the environment very much.
Most of Premadasa's photography was focused on bringing to light the beauty of the environment and wild animals.
In other words he loved the elephants and tuskers and capturing them on his lens was one of his major hobbies.
The former President whenever he got a break from his official duties headed straightaway not to the airport but to the Yala National Park.

He was also well versed in all the areas of the Yala Wildlife sanctuary while his intention was to go near the wild animals and enjoy their company to his heart's content while having only a handful of security officials to be by his side.
The person who was well known to most regarding those visits to the wildlife parks by the former leader was the official photographer to Presidents Sudath Silva.

Silva too had spent many nights at Yala and he told this writer that Premadasa had liked to walk barefoot near the sea area of the sanctuary which was devoid of fishermen.

It is said Premadasa had watched intently the behaviour of elephants both at dawn and at dusk before snapping pictures with his camera. The former President had also never liked any of his officials to make a noise when he was about to take such photos as it would disturb the pose of the animals, and if they did he had made it a point not to take such officials with him again.
It is also stated that the former President had worn a safari kit during most of his sojourns to the jungle.

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