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Shermila Rajapaksha to assume duties as Zoo DG this week

Former Presidential Secretariat Social Media Head Shermila Rajapaksha has been appointed as the National Zoological Gardens Department Director General (DG) and is scheduled to assume duties on Thursday (28).

Last week, The Morning reported that this appointment was imminent.

Rajapaksha had served in the role of Head of Social Media at the Presidential Secretariat before submitting her resignation in June 2020. 

She will fill the vacancy left by the much-talked-about resignation of former DG Ishini Wickremesinghe in early September.

Wickremesinghe’s resignation followed a court decision on 6 September which directed 14 elephants under the charge of the National Zoological Gardens Department to be released to their so-called original “owners” for registration. This followed a gazette notification issued by the Wildlife Protection, Adoption of Safety Measures including the Construction of Electrical Fences and Trenches, and Reforestation and Forest Resource Development State Ministry.

The court decision is part of ongoing legal proceedings into incidents of elephant trafficking that took place primarily between 2010 and 2015. Since 2015, 34 such elephants, including baby elephants, were taken into custody and held with the Wildlife Conservation Department (DWC) and the National Zoological Gardens Department.