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It is an honour and privilege to be invited to address you at the inauguration of this very important occasion, the international workshop on Sri Lanka Wildlife Enforcement Network-linking up with South Asia hosted by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. This occasion is especially important to me personally for two reasons. One is that the conservation of our National Heritage is an issue that is near and dear to me personally since my young days. The other is that is that I was leading the Sri Lankan delegation in my capacity as the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources when the decision was taken by the Environmental ministers of the South Asian countries to establish a South Asian Expert Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade during the course of the 11th meeting of the Governing Council of the South Asia Corporative Environmental Programme (SACEP) in May 2008.
Sri Lanka has a rich diversity of fauna and flora and about 25% is endemic to the country in general, although the rate of endemism is significantly higher in certain classes of animals. These species are facing the threat of extinction and one of the cause