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Leopard conservation in Sri Pada: DWC to look at cost-effective measures

By Sarah Hannan

The Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) is to take necessary action to safeguard the Sri Lankan leopards that are frequently being entrapped in the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary at Nallathanni (Sri Pada forest reserve).

With several back-to-back incidents reported over the past weeks of leopards getting caught in snares and losing their lives due to severe injuries, the DWC is now pressed to take visible measures to prevent such tragedies.

Speaking to The Morning, DWC Director General Chandana Sooriyabandara revealed that the Department is legally bound to protect wildlife in the country and that it is preparing to carry out awareness sessions to educate the residents that live in the bordering villages on how they could assist in conserving the wildlife in the area, whilst protecting themselves and their crops and pets.

“Extensive studies are being carried out to recognise the reasons as to why leopards are drawn towards the human population. Since the majority of bordering land belongs to tea plantations and its workers, we are at present carrying out awareness sessions in Tamil medium to educate these residents.

Furthermore, we can assure that this exercise will not require a massive budget and will be considered as another task in our range officers’ job description,” he noted.

Sooriyabandara acknowledged that many wildlife conservationists and animal rights activists were instrumental in arranging the discussions with the private tea plantation owners, which allowed time to carry out these awareness programmes.

He also reiterated that they are willing to partner up with private organisations and conservation teams to carry out conservation activities, not only for leopards, but also for other wild animals that are facing danger due to human activities taking place closer to these wildlife sanctuaries and forest reserves.

However, these organisations will have to agree to work in line with the project plans that are laid out by the DWC.