Calls for robust wildlife crime probe mechanism
2 years ago
By Buddhika Samaraweera Wildlife conservation organisations have pointed out the need for a proper mechanism to investigate wildlife related organised crimes and to initiate stern legal action against the perpetrators. These organisations have pointed out that the mechanism that is currently in place to initiate legal action against wildlife related offences and offenders is by no means adequate. When contacted by The Morning, Supun Lahiru Prakash of the Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle of Sri Lanka (BCRCSL) said that the mechanism currently in place to take legal action against wildlife offenders is not adequate. He also claimed that the investigations carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Department (DWC) in particular were not at a satisfactory level and that there was also a shortage of properly trained wildlife officers. Referring to the recent deaths of several leopards due to human activities such as snare traps, Prakash said that such incidents were examples of the aforesaid issues. He reiterated that although stern legal action should have been initiated against the culprits involved in the incidents, the existing legal provisions are not adequate. Elaborating on the steps to be taken in order to prevent the deaths of leopards due to snares, he explained that the DWC and the Police should take action to prevent poaching activities in areas where leopard habitats have been identified in large numbers. “Many leopards died shortly after being captured in these snares. It is difficult to cure them after such an accident,” he added. Speaking further, he also said that areas that are prone to leopards or other wildlife hazards should be identified and veterinary care centres should be set up near those areas with properly trained veterinarians deployed to man them. Often, these animals that meet with such accidents are taken to distant treatment centres which is detrimental to the health of the animals, he emphasised. Prakash further said that awareness programmes should be conducted for the people living in the areas where leopards are mostly found. He added that while some programmes are being implemented in this regard, progressive results can be achieved by expanding them. According to the data of the DWC, out of the 12 leopard deaths reported during last year, 11 leopards had died after being trapped in snares. The latest death was reported in Matale in late last year. Attempts to contact the Wildlife and Forest Conservation Minister C.B. Ratnayake, the Wildlife Protection, the Adoption of Safety Measures including the Construction of Electrical Fences and Trenches and Reforestation and Forest Resource Development State Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayake and the DWC Director General Chandana Sooriyabandara, to inquire about the matter, were unsuccessful.