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Addressing Human Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka: Stakeholder Discussion on the Way Forward

by Nadeesha Paulis

 

Humane Society International together with SLYCAN Trust organised a lecture on “Addressing the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka” followed by a panel discussion on October 14th, 2019. Dr Prithiviraj Fernando, an expert in the conservation field with for over 25 years, narrated the present situation in Sri Lanka. 

 

Sri Lanka is home to the largest animal to walk on earththe elephant. At present, about 7000-8000 wild elephants roam in close to 70% of land in Sri Lanka compared with countries such as India where elephants only occupy 3%. While this itself is a blessing, tragedy lurks underneath the tropical paradise. Around 150 elephants and fifty people die each year due to human-elephant conflicts (HEC). The main reasons for the altercations between human and elephant are the drastic increase in the human population, encroachment for agriculture and settlements as well as unplanned development efforts.

 

HEC is neither simple nor straightforward. It is not a problem with easy solutions. 

(Image by Danushka Senadheera)

 

Trials and errors to manage human-elephant conflicts 

 

As a way to manage HEC, the Wildlife Conservation Department has tried several methods namely elephant translocation, setting up an elephant holding ground in Horouwpathana, mass elephant drives as well as setting up electric fences. 

 

Dr Fernando noted close to 25 cases of lone male elephants such as “Chandi” and “Brigadier” who were translocated to more favourable locations because of their “troublesome” nature. Unfortunately, the elephants in almost all 25 cases have returned to their home range sometimes crossing over 200 km making translocation of elephants detrimental to both humans and elephants.  

(Dr Prithiviraj Fernando speaking about the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka)

 

“It’s like Jurassic Park. They don’t like to call it a ‘prison but that’s what it is,” said Dr Fernando speaking about the elephant holding ground out of which elephants would always break out, even though it was a fortress.

 

Elephant drives are another tactic to relocate masses of elephants into the existing parks, sometimes 100-200 elephants at a time but again, the problem is not solved because 95% of they consist of innocent females and their juveniles which means that the problem causing elephants are left behind. Using ali wedi or huge firecrackers to scare the elephants away is also futile because while it may scare away the females (who don’t cause harm in the first place) it will only aggravate and annoy the male elephants who as a result, do more damage. 

 

The panel consisted of Rohan Wijensinha – Chairperson of the Federation of Environmental Organisations, Dr. Ajith Gunewardena – Assistant Director of the Central Environment Authority,  Hemantha Withanage – Executive Director at the Center for Environment Justice, Anura Sathurusinghe – Director of Ecosystems and Conservation Programme at SLYCAN Trust and Dr. Pruthuviraj Fernando Chairman from the Center for Conservation and Research, and was moderated by Vositha Wijenakaye of Humane Society International of Sri Lanka. 

([Left to right] Dr. Ajith Gunewardena, Hemantha Withanage, Anura Sathurusinghe, Dr. Pruthuviraj Fernando and Rohan Wijensinha)

 

What are the solutions to enable human-elephant co-existence?

 

“The income generated from Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks during the season adds about 1.75 billion rupees to the local economy. That’s how valuable elephants (and other wildlife) are to us,” said Rohan Wijensinha who emphasised on the need for planned development in these areas so that it can enable human-elephant co-existence. “Policies are not enough. Sri Lanka needs movements that go beyond policies,” adds Mr Wijensinha encouraging the youngsters present at the event to build a movement of change.  

 

Anura Sathurusinghe spoke about deforestation and how it impacts HEC. “At the moment, large-scale infrastructure developments such as roads and reservoirs contribute to deforestation more than encroachments,” said Mr Sathurusinghe. He says that on average, 7500 to 8000 hectares of land undergo deforestation in Sri Lanka, which is a low rate compared with other countries but still a cause for concern. He emphasised the need to identify a value for the ecosystems similar to India’s tiger reserves so that all stakeholders involved, from policymakers to the inhabitants are aware of the need to conserve. 

( Lecture on the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka) 

 

Hemantha Withanage spoke about hakka patas as a big threat to elephants. Attached to pumpkin or pineapple, this device detonates once an animal bites on it, badly wounding and ultimately killing it. He also spoke of unplanned development projects such as roads and housing schemes that are built on the elephant corridors that adversely affect the elephants who have been using these corridors to migrate for generations. “This is a man-made, politically fueled, conflict,” says Mr Withanage who calls out for science-backed elephant management policies that will help both man and animal. 

 

Speaking on elephant corridor mapping and habitat management through remote and satellite-based technology Dr Ajith Gunewardena said “We’ve initiated a project to map out the ecosystem services in Kamberawa in the Knuckles range where we use high-res satellite data to identify habitat quality, pollination, sediment delivery ratio, land degradation, environmental sensitivity and so on,” He also spoke about using technology and methods such as on strategic environmental assistance to identify which areas need to be conserved, which areas are good for human settlements and development projects and so on. 

(Attendees at the lecture on the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka)

 

Additional reading on HEC. 

 

 


චාලි පිළිස්සු මිනිසුන්ට බල්ලන්ගේ අගේ දැනුනු මොහොතක් …

 

අමුනුස්සකම් අතරේ දෝරෙ ගලන මනුස්සකම් ගැන අපට නිරන්තර සතුටක් තිබේ.  තිරිසන් සතුනට වුවද ජීවිතයක් තිබෙන බව පිළිගන්නේ එවැනි මනුස්සකම් හිත තුළ ඇත්තවුන්ය. මිනිසුන්ට කිසියම් පීඩාවක් වුවදුරක් ඇතිවු විට ඉදිරිපත්වන තිරිසන් සතුන් අතර  ප්‍රමුඛත්වය ලැබෙන්නේ සුනඛයන්ටය.

පාස්කු ඉරිදා ත්‍රස්ත ප්‍රහාරය එල්ල වීමත් සමග හිටි හැටියේ සුනඛයන් ගැන තිබෙන අවධානයද  සිය දහස් ගුණයකින් වැඩිවිය. ඒ ත්‍රස්තවාදී සැකකරුවන් හා පුපුරණ ද්‍රව්‍ය සොයා දීමට ආරක්ෂක අංශවල පෙරමුණටම ආවේ සුනඛයන් නිසාය.

තිරිසන් වු මනුස්සයන් ලේ පිපාසිතව ව්‍යවසනයන් සිදු කරද්දී සුනඛයන් තිරිසන් මිනිසුන්ව සොයා රටක ආරක්ෂාව තහවුරු කරදීමට යුද, ගුවන් සහ පොලිස් සියලු ආරක්ෂක අංශවලට සහය වීමට පටන් ගත්තේය.

මීගමුවේ චාලි සුනඛයා පණපිටින් පුලුස්සා දමනවිට ඒ වෙනුවෙන් ඉදිරියට පැමිණ හඩ නැගීමට ඉදිරිපත්වුයේ සුළු පිරිසක් වුවද මෙම ව්‍යවසනයේදී සුනඛයන් පෙරමුණ ගත්තේ රට වැසි සියලු දෙනාගේ ආරක්ෂාව වෙනුවෙන් ත්‍රිවිධ හමුදාව සහ පොලිසිය ගෙනයන ආරක්ෂක වැඩපිළිවෙලට සහය වීම සදහාය.

බලු සුරතලුන්ගේ ඥානය ගැන ආරක්ෂක අංශ විශ්වාසය පළ කරන්නේ අද ඊයේ පටන් නොවේ. ලැබ්‍රඩෝර් හා ජර්මන් ෂෙපර්ඩ් වර්ගයේ සුනඛයන් ඥානයෙන් ඉහළ බව ආරක්ෂක අංශවල පිළිගැනීමයි. ඔවුන් පුපුරණ ද්‍රව්‍ය හදුනාගැනීමට විශිෂ්ටයන් වනවිට බෙල්ජියම් මැලිනොයිස් (මැලනුවා) වර්ගය ඥානය අතින් ඔවුන්ටත් වඩා ඉහළින් සිටිමින් බිම් බෝම්බ ඉවත් කිරීමේ දක්වා කටයුතුවලට දායක වෙයි.

මෙයට දස වසරකට පෙර වඩා ක්‍රියාශීලි ලෙස මෙම සුනඛයන් හමුදා රාජකාරි සදහා සහය වුයේ එකල පැවැති යුද වාතාවරණය තුළදීය. පසුගිය කාලයේ ලැබ්‍රඩෝර් හා ජර්මන් ෂෙපර්ඩ් වර්ගයේ සුනඛයන් සිටියේ විශ්‍රාමගොස් මෙන්ය. ඊට හේතුවුයේ පුපුරණ ද්‍රව්‍ය හදුනාගැනීමේ රාජකාරිවලින් ඔවුන් නිදහස් වීමයි.

පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරයත් සමග රට තුළ ඇතිවු අවිනිශ්චිත භාවය තුරන් කිරීමේ මෙහෙයුම්වල වගකීම් ඔවුන් වෙත පැවරෙන්නට වුයේ මේ පසුගිය සති කිහිපයේ සිටය. කොටින්ම කියතොත් අප්‍රේල් 21 වැනිදා සිටය. ඔවුන් ත්‍රිවිධ හමුදාව සහ පොලිසියට සහය දක්වමින් කොළඹ පීරුවේය. සුනඛයන්ගේ ඉවට පැටලුනු බොහෝ සැකකටයුතු පුපුරණ ද්‍රව්‍ය සගවා තිබු ස්ථාන, පුපුරණ ද්‍රව්‍ය භාවිතා වු නිවස්න හදුනාගැනීම නිසා ත්‍රස්තවාදී සැකකරුවන් රැසක්ද නීතියේ රැහැනට පැටලිනි.

බල්ලාගේ සේවය මිනිසාට දැනෙන්නට වුයේ මෙවැනි සිද්ධිවල පුවත් මැවෙනවිටය. සමාජ මාධ්‍ය ජාල ඔස්සේ සුනඛයන්ට ආචාරකරන ඡායාරූප හුවමාරුවීමට පටන්ගත්තේ නිමේශයෙනි. ඇත්ත නම් මිනිස්සුන්ගේ ජීවිත කීයක් ඔවුන් විසින් රැක්කාද දන්නේ ඔවුන්ම නොව ඔවුන්ගේ සේවය ලබාගත් ආරක්ෂක අංශ නිලධාරින්ය.

නමුත් වෙහෙස නොබලා රට වෙනුවෙන් තම යුතුකම ඉටුකිරීමට සුනඛයන්ද ඉදිරිපත්වෙද්දී එවැනි පරිත්‍යාග කරමින් බලු සුරතල් වලින් ඔබ්බට ගොස් රට ගැන යුතුකම් සිහි කරන සත්ත්ව හිංසනය පිටුදකින සංවිධානවල සාමාජික සාමාජිකාවෝද මේ මොහොතේ අගය කළ යුතුය.

දැන් යුද හමුදා ඉංජිනේරු බළකායේ සීබීආර්එන් අංශයට මෙවැනි සූර වීර සුනඛයන්ව භාර දීමේ හැකියාව ඔබටත් තිබේ. පසුගිය තෙවසරේම බිම් බෝම්බ ඉවත් කිරීමෙන් ලොව හොදම සුනඛයා වු මෙම අංශයේ මැලිනොයිස්ලයි සුනඛයා මෙන් අභිමානවත් සුනඛයකු වීමට අනෙකුත් සුනඛයන්ටද දැන් අවස්ථාව තිබේ.

සුරතලයට, නිවසේ ආරක්ෂාවට සිටින ඔබේ සුරතල් සුනඛයා මෙන්ම අනෙකුත් සුනඛයන්ද තිරිසනුන් වුවද ජීවයක් පවතින සත්ව ලෝකයේ අහිංසකයන්ය. ඔවුන්ට ඔබගේ ආදරය රැකවරණය දෙන්න. ඔවුන් ඔවුන්ගේ වරිගය වෙනුවෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිනු ඇත්තේ එවැන්නකි.

රමේෂ් වරල්ලෙගම

 


Inside CITES: Protecting Sri Lankan Species

May 23rd, 2019, the 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will come to Sri Lanka. 3,000 delegates will arrive from all over the globe to discuss the next steps in combatting wildlife trafficking and the poaching of endangered species. Much work has been done in the three years since the last conference, and a total of 57 proposals have been submitted.

 

Out of these, Sri Lanka has submitted or co-submitted nine, almost 16% of the total number of proposals. It is the single country with the most submissions for COP18 (only the European Union has submitted more), and it sends a strong signal: Sri Lanka is committed to preserve its wealth of wildlife and its unique biodiversity.

 

Reptile Smuggling out of Sri Lanka

Four of the proposals concern endemic species of Sri Lankan lizards. Under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) of 1993, the export of all reptiles from the island is prohibited.

However, the number of documented sales, auctions, and online adverts for these species has increased in recent years. They are sold mainly on the European pet market in countries like Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Spain, or Russia, and in the US, and can command high prices for single specimens or breeding pairs.

 

The lucrativeness of the trade incentivizes poachers and traffickers and seriously threatens these animals. The ten sub-species of lizards named in Sri Lanka’s proposals are already either on the National Red List, the IUCN’s Red List, or both, as they are highly vulnerable due to their small populations and limited ranges.

 

Another reptile joins the lizards in another of Sri Lanka’s proposals, this one co-authored with India: the Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans). Just like the lizards, it is endemic to Sri Lanka as well as parts of India and Pakistan. Just like the lizards, it has been protected by the FFPO since 1993. And just like the lizards, its illegal trade is flourishing.

 

This species of tortoise accounts for 11% of all global seizures of freshwater turtles: between 2015 and 2017 alone, at least 3,130 specimens have been seized just in Sri Lanka. The IUCN lists the species as vulnerable, and since the tortoises have a low population recovery potential, it might rapidly slide toward extinction if unsustainable trafficking continues.

 

Sri Lankan customs have not been able to stop exports of these animals, but their placement on the CITES appendix I would increase greater pressure on import markets in Europe and elsewhere and help protect these species.

 

Overfishing around Sri Lanka

Five of Sri Lanka’s proposals concern reptiles: another three revolve around fish. Since oceanic ecosystems are not restricted by land boundaries or borders, all these proposals are co-authored with other nations.

 

They comprise two species of guitarfish, two species of Mako sharks, and two species of white-spotted wedgefish, all of which are categorized as either vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN Red

List. However, the case is different than it is with the reptiles. Sri Lanka and the co-proponents do not intend to stop all trade with these animals: they just want to save them from overexploitation and unsustainable fishing.

 

Accordingly, they do not advocate for these fish to be placed on appendix I, which would prohibit any international commercial trade, but instead on appendix II, which regulates and monitors their trade. This could allow these species to replenish and thrive again while still keeping fishery livelihoods intact and allowing for the use of oceanic ecosystem resources.

 

Keeping Tarantulas in Sri Lanka

Five Sri Lankan proposals for reptiles, three for fish: the final one concerns a different class of animal: arachnids. No less than fifteen species endemic to India and/or Sri Lanka are up for appendix II protection: and in fact, this genus of Tarantula occurs nowhere else than in these two countries.

 

Poecilotheria species are the only tarantulas that are completely arboreal, which means two things: they live in trees, and they are greatly threatened by habitat loss. These tarantulas are also common to very common as pets and, like the lizards, often appear in Europe, Russia, or the US, where they can command high prizes. They are popular for their bright coloration and size, but since they don’t breed well, many of the specimens on the market are sourced from the wild.

 

As these tarantula species reproduce slowly and are already threatened through deforestation, the pet trade with them needs to be stopped from reaching unsustainable levels. To this end, Sri Lanka has proposed to include them in CITES appendix II alongside the guitarfish, sharks, and wedgefish.

 

Ivory Trafficking through Sri Lanka

The much-discussed protection of the extinct woolly mammoth (which was proposed by Israel) is of concern for Sri Lanka for a different reason, and not merely because of the enormous cultural significance of elephants on the island.

 

Ten million mammoths are estimated to be conserved in the melting arctic permafrost, and selling their ivory causes no immediate harm. However, since elephant and mammoth ivory are very similar, their trade opens a loophole, as elephant ivory may simply be passed off as mammoth ivory.

Since only around 5% of Sri Lankan elephants are tuskers, they have never been an important source of ivory, and Sri Lankan elephants are more threatened by habitat loss and human-animal conflict. But Sri Lanka finds itself in another role here: it may not export or important significant quantities of elephant ivory, but it facilitates the trade.

 

Sri Lanka is a strategic global hub for all kinds of goods, including elephant and mammoth ivory. The inclusion of the woolly mammoth in appendix II could enable customs at Colombo and other ports to the fight cruel and unsustainable trafficking of elephant ivory (and thereby poaching in other countries) much more effectively.

 

Step by Step to Protection

Sri Lanka has an incredible amount of biodiversity and is home to countless endemic species. From its lizards to its tortoises, from tarantulas to the fish shooting through its waters: all of these animals play a vital part in their ecosystem and/or the livelihoods of many of the most vulnerable populations of Sri Lanka.

The country has a duty to protect not only its citizens but also its wildlife: and CITES is a tool that can stop wildlife trafficking and prevent these animals from ending up as pets or delicacies on the fast track to extinction. The eyes of the world will be on Colombo in May and June: if all of Sri Lanka’s proposals are voted through, it means taking another step forward on the path to protection.

 

Sources:


The Fight against Wildlife Trafficking: CITES in Sri Lanka

By Dennis Mombauer

From pangolins to elephants, from tropical timber to birds and snakes: Wildlife trafficking is one of the largest illegal global trade sectors and generates billions of USD per year. Since 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) provides a framework for the sustainable trade of wildlife and ecosystem products. The parties to the convention meet every three years, and the host for the 18th Conference of the Parties in 2019 is Sri Lanka, making it the second South Asian country to do so after India in 1981.

As a country rich in biodiversity, controlling and containing wildlife trade is of vital interest to Sri Lanka: livelihoods, ecosystems, and a growing eco-tourism sector all hinge on the conservation and sustainable use of the island’s unique flora and fauna.

Wildlife Trade under CITES

To date, 183 countries are party to CITES and have committed to its licencing system for the international trade of over 5,800 animal and 30,000 plant species. Sri Lanka has joined the convention on May 4th, 1979, as the 49th country world-wide and the 8th country in Asia.

Many traded species are important to their ecosystems and to the livelihoods of local communities. CITES attempts a balancing act between legal trade on the one hand and protecting endangered species and vulnerable ecosystems on the other. Wildlife trade is also connected to at least three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: SDG14 (Life below water), SDG15 (Life on land), and SDG16 (Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions).

From flowers to ivory carvings, live animals, trophies, skins, timber, medicinal products, perfume ingredients, ornamental plants, caviar, tourist curios, and many more products: wildlife trade in flora and fauna is a vast industry. While in 1985, ten years after the inception of CITES, the convention tracked less than 200,000 transactions, this number has multiplied to 1.2 million transactions in 2015. The CITES Trade Database records every import and export of listed species, complete with importing and exporting country, quantity, and purpose, and it grows every year.

 

CITES divides the covered species into three groups with descending levels of protection. Appendix I species are the most endangered and consequently the most protected ones. Because they are threatened with extinction, any international commercial trade with them is prohibited. Sri Lanka is home to a number of species on appendix I, among them elephants, several species of whales, dugongs, pangolins, crocodiles, and turtles. Appendix II species are endangered or otherwise threatened, so CITES requires permits for their export to monitor their trade and limit it to sustainable levels. The total trade volume of appendix II animals is USD350-530 million per year, with the vast majority (62%) being reptiles. Finally, appendix III covers species whose trade is already regulated by a party to the convention, but this party requires international cooperation to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation.

An Island of Biodiversity

Sri Lanka has a wealth of wildlife, including flagship species such as the Asian elephant, leopards, and blue whales. With around 7,500 plant and thousands of animal species (many of which are endemic), it contains the highest concentration of species in Asia and has been named (together with India’s Western Ghats) a global biodiversity hotspot. This means it has an incredible degree of biodiversity, but it also means this biodiversity is under threat: and illegal wildlife trade certainly contributes.

Currently, 27% of bird species, 66% of amphibians, 56% of mammals, 49% of freshwater fish, and 59% of reptiles in Sri Lanka are threatened. While habitat destruction and climate change might be major drivers of ecosystem degradation and species extinction, wildlife trafficking plays a huge part as well. It drives species to extinction and has huge economic impacts: Wildlife and ecosystem tourism are booming in Sri Lanka, and many people depend on sustainable wildlife populations for their livelihoods.

Sri Lanka and the International Wildlife Trade

Only around 5% of Sri Lankan elephants are tuskers: But even though Sri Lanka is not a source of the global “blood ivory” trade, the island is still a major hub for it and other wildlife trafficking. The government is trying to send signals, for example when it destroyed 359 pieces of seized African elephant ivory in 2016 or when it confiscated 28 containers of Rosewood timber in 2014, but there are concerns that these efforts are not enough. There is also a sizeable domestic illegal trade in wildlife that does not fall under CITES provisions.

Existing Sri Lankan laws might not suffice to address the international illegal wildlife trade. The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended in 2009 includes provisions against the import and export of elephants, tusks, and certain mammal species—however, only few cases have been prosecuted under this law so far. While the country has been a signatory to CITES for decades, it still lacks local regulations to enforce all aspects of the convention, making it difficult for customs to prosecute wildlife traffickers in many cases.

Towards a Sustainable Future

The 18th Conference of the Parties to CITES starts on May 23rd in Colombo with over 3,000 delegates from all over the globe. As CITES conferences only happen every three years, they are important meetings that cover numerous points of discussion: and the intersessional between COP17 and COP18 has been especially busy. There are 57 proposals regarding a range of species, including protecting the extinct woolly mammoth (because illegal elephant ivory gets passed off as legal mammoth ivory revealed by melting permafrost), giraffes, four species of Sri Lankan reptiles, tiger spiders, Mako sharks, giant guitarfish, and wedgefish. Other items on the agenda are the most recent analysis of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), the wildlife markets in Laos and Madagascar, and the upcoming 2020 meeting of the parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity, which will decide on the biodiversity framework for the future.

As the host country, the world will look to Sri Lanka to play its part in fighting wildlife trafficking and unsustainable wildlife trade. If Sri Lanka can stop illegal shipments to pass through its harbours and curb the exploitation of ecosystems and the extinction of species, not only the environment but also the people and the economy stand to benefit.

 

 

Sources:


ලංකාවේ ‘සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනත’ යාවත්කාලීන විය යුත්තේ ඇයි ?

-සුපුන් ළහිරු ප්‍රකාශ්

Photo by Rajith Gunawardena from Pexels – https://www.pexels.com/photo/dogs-puppy-puppy-in-sri-lanka-sri-lanka-puppy-88225/ 

සත්ත්ව ආරක්ෂණය හා සුබ සාධනය සම්බන්ධයෙන් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අපට ඇත්තේ වෙනත් කිසිදු ජාතියකට නොමැති තරම් සාඩම්බර අතීතයකි.ක්‍රිස්තු පූර්ව තුන්වැනි සියවසේදී මෙරට රජ කළ දේවානම්පියතිස්ස රජු සකලවිධ සත්ත්ව වර්ගයාට නිදහසේ ජීවත්වීමේ අයිතිය පිළිගත්තේය. ඒ මිහින්තලාව අභයභූමියක් වශයෙන් ප්‍රකාශයට පත්කරමිනි.

පසුකාලීනව වනජීවීන් ආරක්ෂණය හා සංරක්ෂණය සම්බන්ධයෙන් මෙරට නීති රීති පද්ධතිය විකාශනය වුවද සත්ත්ව හිංසනය සහ සුබසාධනය සම්බන්ධයෙන් ලැබුණේ අඩු උනන්දුවකි. 1907 අංක 13 සත්ත්ව හිංසා වැළැක්වීමේ ආඥා පනත මෙ රට සතුනට රැකවරණය ලබා දීම සඳහා දැනට ඇති එකම නීතිමය ආවරණය වීම ඊට කදිම නිදසුනයි. නමුත් විවිධ හේතූන් නිසා මෙය යාවත්කාලීන කිරීමේ ප්‍රමුඛ අවශ්‍යතාවයක් පැන නැඟී  තිබුණ ද බලධාරීන් ඒ සම්බන්ධයෙන් නිසි අවධානයක් යොමු නො කිරීම කණගාටුවට කරුණකි.

ලොව සියලුම සත්ත්වයින්ට ආරක්ෂිතව ජීවත්වීමට අයිතියක් ඇත. එය මිනිසුන්ට මෙන්ම සෙසු සත්ත්වයින්ට ද පොදු ය. මානව අයිතිවාසිකම් ආරක්ෂා කිරීම සඳහා කොතෙකුත් නීතිමය ප්‍රතිපාදන තිබුණ ද සත්ත්ව අයිතින් වෙනුවෙන් එවැනි නීතිමය ආරක්ෂාවන් ඇත්තේ ඉතා අවම වශයෙනි. වර්තමානයේ ගෘහාශ්‍රිත මෙන්ම වන සතුන් ඉතා කෘර හා අමානුෂික හිංසනයන්ට හා ඝාතනයන්ට ගොදුරුවන්නේ එම නිසාය . 2016 වසරේදී කුස ඇලි මුහුදු උකුස්සෙකු පණපිටින් හමගසා මරා දැමීමේ සිදුවීමක් හික්කඩුව ප්‍රදේශයෙන් වාර්තාවූ අතර 2018 වස‍රේ කිලිනොච්චිය ප්‍රදේශයේදී ගම් වැදුණු කොටියෙකු ඉතා අමානුෂික ලෙස පොලු වලින් පහරදී මරා දැමු ආකාරය මාධ්‍ය ඔස්සේ ප්‍රචාරය කෙරිණි. පසුගිය දා මීගමුව, කොප්පරා හංදිය ප්‍රදේශයේදී සුනඛයෙකු ගිනිතබා මරා දැමීම හා බලංගොඩ, මස්තැන්න ප්‍රදේශයේ සුනඛයෙකු දුෂණයකර මරා දැමීම මෙවැනි සත්ත්ව හිංසනයන් සම්බන්ධ ආසන්නතම සිදුවීම් ද්විත්වයයි.

මෙම අසරණ  සතුන්  සිය දුක් කඳුළු මතින් නිහඬ අරගලයක යෙදෙති.ඒ සත්ත්ව හිංසනය වැළැක්වීමේ නීති ප්‍රතිපාදන මෙරට තුළ  ශක්තිමත් කරන ලෙස තව තවත් සිහි කැදවමිනි. නමුත් අවාසනාවට සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන පණත හමස් පෙට්ටියේ දමාගෙන බලධාරිහු  මුණිවත රකිති.

අප ඉහත සඳහන් කළ පරිදි මෙරට සතුන්ගේ ආරක්ෂණය හා සුබසාධනය සම්බන්ධයෙන් දැනට මෙරට තුළ ක්‍රියාත්මකවන නීතිය වන්නේ 1907අංක 13 සත්ත්ව හිංසා වැළැක්වීමේ ආඥාපනතයි. බ්‍රිතාන්‍යන් මෙරට පාලනය කරන සමයේ නීතිගතකරන ලද එම ආඥාපනත කරළියට පැමිණ වසර සියයකට අධික කාලයක් ගතවී ඇත. ඉන්පසු ගෙවුණු අතීතය තුළ ලෝකයේ සෙසු රටවල් බොහොමයක් සත්ත්ව හිංසනයන් වැලැක්වීම සඳහා ශක්තිමත් නීති අනපනත් නිර්මාණය කර ඇත. ඕනෑ තරම් එවැනි උදාහරණ තිබියදී වර්තමානයට ගැලපෙන ලෙස සත්ත්ව අයිතිවාසිකම් නීතිගතකර ආරක්ෂාකිරීමට රටක් ලෙස අප අපොහොසත්වීම කණගාටුවට කරුණකි.

2016ජනවාරි මාසයේ කැබිනට් අනුමැතිය ලැබුණු සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන පනත් කෙටුම්පතක් අප රට සතුව ඇතත් එය පාර්ලිමේන්තුවට ඉදිරිපත්කර සම්මත කර නොගන්නේ ඇයිදැයි දන්නේ නැත.  ඉන් පෙනෙන්ට ඇත්තේ බලධාරින් ඊට දක්වන උනන්දුවේ තරමය. වනජීවීන් ආරක්ෂණය හා සංරක්ෂණය සම්බන්ධ නීති රීති යම්කිසි ප්‍රමාණයකින් යාවත්කාලීන  කරන අතරේ පොදුවේ සත්ත්වයන් වෙනුවෙන් ගෙන එන සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනතක අවශ්‍යතාවය ගැන රජයට පසුගාමී අදහසක් තිබීම විමතියකි.

මේ පිළිබඳව අප කළ විමසීමේදී සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන හවුලේ කැඳවුම්කාරිණි නීතිඥ වොසිතා විජේනායක මහත්මිය මෙසේ පැවසුවාය.‘පසුගිය කාලය පුරාම සත්ත්ව හිංසන සිද්ධි රැසක් වර්තා වුණා. අප දිගින් දිගටම සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන පනත පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ සම්මත කළ යුතු යැයි අරගලයක නිරත වන්නෙ ඒ නිසයි. අදටත් ක්‍රියාත්මක වන්නේ  1907 හඳුන්වා  දුන් නීතියක්. අද රටට ගැලපෙන විධියට මේ නීති අලුත්වන්නට අවශ්‍ය  යි. අප රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා  සිටින්නේ  සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනත හැකි ඉක්මනින් පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ සම්මත කර මෙරට තුළ සිදුවන සත්ත්ව හිංසනයන් වැලැක්වීමට කඩිනමින් මැදිහත්වන ලෙස’යි.

1907 අංක 13 සත්ත්ව හිංසා වැළැක්වීමේ ආඥාපනත මගින් යම්කිසි සත්ත්ව හිංසනයක් සඳහා වැරදිකරුවකු වන පුද්ගලයෙකුගෙන් අයකර ගතහැකි උපරිම දඩ මුදල රුපියල් සියයක් පමණි. එවැනි වරදකරුවෙකු සය මසක උපරිමයකට යටත්ව බන්ධනාගාර ගතකිරීමකට යටත්කළ හැකිව පැවතුණ ද එම දණ්ඩනය පැනවෙන්නේද ඉතා අල්ප වශයෙන් බව විජේනායක මහත්මිය පවසන්නීය.මේ අනුව සත්ත්ව සුබසාධනය සම්බන්ධයෙන් ශක්තිමත් පනතක් නීතිගත කිරීම කාලීන අවශ්‍යතාවයකි.

මෙම නව පනත සම්මත කිරීම මගින් ආකාර කිහිපයකින් අසරණ සතුන්ට නීතිමය ආරක්ෂාවක් සැලසේ. සත්ත්වයින් සම්බන්ධයෙන් දැනට පවතින නීතිමය අර්ථකථනය වඩාත් පුළුල් කිරීම මගින් සත්ත්ව හිංසනයට එරෙහිව වැඩි ආවරණයක් ලැබීම මෙම නව පනතේ ඇති විශේෂත්වයකි. එසේම සත්ත්ව හිංසනයන් හා සතුන්ට නොසලකා හැරීම් සම්බන්ධයෙන් වරදකරුවන්ට ලබා දිය හැකි දඬුවම් ඉහළ නැංවීමට ද මෙ මඟින් අවස්ථාව ලැබේ. තව ද සතෙකු තම භාරයේ තබාගන්නා පුද්ගලයාට එම සත්ත්වයා රැකබලා ගැනීමට නෛතික වගකීමක් පැවරීමද මෙහි ඇති නව සංකල්පයකි. එමෙන්ම සත්ත්ව ආරක්ෂණය සහ හිංසනය පිලිබඳ විශේෂයෙන් ක්‍රියාත්මක වන අධිකාරියක් හරහා නිතිය ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට අවශ්‍ය ආයතනික ව්‍යුහය ද මෙම පනත හරහා ගොඩ නැඟීමට ප්‍රතිපාදන සලසා ඇත. මේ සියලු කරුණු  සමග වඩාත් ඵලදායී හා කාර්යක්ෂම නීති රාමුවකින් මෙරට සියලු සත්වයින්ට ආරක්ෂාව ලැබීම හා සුබසාධනය තහවුරුවීම සඳහා මෙම පනත අවස්ථාව උදාකරදී ඇත. මේ නිසා සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනත් කෙටුම්පත පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ සම්මත කර ගැනීමට බල කිරීම අවිහිංසාව අගයන උතුම් මානව ගුණාංගයන්ගෙන් පිරි හදවත් ඇති සැමගේ යුතුකම හා වගකීම වන්නේය.

 

 


“Hakka Patas” – The Bane of Elephants in Sri Lanka

by Samya Senaratne

 

“Hakka Patas” (a cynical Sinhala term which translates as “jaw breaker”) are small improvised explosive devices which consist of gun powder, stones, lead, and iron shaped into a ball. They are made among the rural agrarian villages in the Northern and North-Eastern part of Sri Lanka for the main purpose of keeping wild animals, including elephants, away from the crops.

These explosives are also used by villagers to hunt small animals like boars, and by illegal poachers to hunt around the forests, tank bunds, and even in Sanctuaries. But the constant victims of these explosives are most often small elephant calves and sometimes adult elephants, cattle, and domesticated animals like dogs.

 

The Painful and Deadly Effects of “Hakka Patas”

“Hakka Patas” are strategically inserted into a cucumber, pumpkin, or melon, which are delicacies for wild animals, and explode in their mouths once they are swallowed. The consequence is a destroyed mouth cavity and painful slow death which can take up to two weeks as the animal becomes emaciated from its inability to chew and swallow food.

The comparatively lesser number of adult elephant victims is owing to them being intelligent enough to often identify the masked fruit as a deadly meal. But the same cannot be said about elephant calves. It is tragic and inhumane how calves who do not know any better are beguiled by the juicy vegetables. They consume the explosives and suffer without food before succumbing to a painful death.

 

Reported Elephant Victims of “Hakka Patas”

The most recently reported incident was on 24th October 2018, when a two-year old baby elephant became prey to a “Hakka Patas” laid down by poachers as it came to drink from the Mahaillupallama Tank in Anuradhapura. But this is not an isolated occurrence, as the use of “Hakka Patas” can be traced back at least a decade. Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) records show that “Hakka Patas” have been in regular use since 2010. According to the Wildlife Department, at least three adult elephants and seven baby elephants have been killed in the Anuradhapura, Mannar, Vavuniya and Puttalam districts in 2010.

It was reported by the DWC that in 2012 alone, 35 wild elephants, most of them baby elephants, died due to mouth injuries caused by the explosions of “Hakka Patas”.

In 2017, at least seven elephant calves were killed by “Hakka Patas” traps in the Anuradhapura district in the village of Horowpathana. The Horowpathana Wildlife Conservation unit has reported that all seven deceased elephant calves were between the age of five to ten years. And on August 14th of the same year, the harrowing find of an elephant calf wounded by a “Hakka Patas” in the Hambantota Port premises was reported. It was noted that the mouth of the elephant was seriously injured while it also bore a gunshot wound on its head. It had lost part of its trunk due to a previous injury and was in extreme pain. Furthermore, two young elephants released from the Elephant Transit Home (ETH) in Udawalawe have also fallen victim to “Hakka Patas”. The first animal died, but the second, a female named “Neela,” was located and attended to by veterinary surgeons before her wounds became infected.

Elephants are not the only ones affected by these explosives. In 2016, Tasindu Kaveesha, a nine-year-old boy from Hambegamuwa, died after accidentally biting off a suspected “Hakka Patas” while playing in the garden with a friend. Thus, this unregulated explosive in the rural agrarian areas has become the bane not only of wild animals like elephants but also of humans.

 

The Urgent Need for Effective Enforcement of the Law

The Explosives Act No. 21 of 1956 provides that a license is required to manufacture explosives, as well as a permit to authorize a permittee to acquire, possess, transport, and use explosives, subject to the provisions of this Act and regulations made thereunder (S. 37 of the Act includes gunpowder under the definition of “explosives”).

Therefore, the requirements to be abided by in acquiring, possessing, and using gun powder, which is the main ingredient of “Hakka Patas”, are explicitly mentioned in this Act. These requirements by implication render all actions not conforming to the law illegal. But even though the use of “Hakka Patas” by poachers is illegal under Sri Lankan law, there are serious gaps in its enforcement.

In an attempt to address the threat to wildlife from the use of “Hakka Patas”, the Wildlife Department (DWC) has throughout the past urged the public to complain or send information about those who are setting “Hakka Patas” traps for wild elephants. Due to the lack of stringent legal regulations and proper implementation mechanisms, the problem persists, and large number of elephants and other unintended victims are still maimed and harmed by these crude explosives. Many villagers with information regarding poachers have given up hope of the DWC taking effective steps to conduct raids even after being informed. Such informants have also been threatened and coerced by poachers.

One of the main lacunas in the law is the lack of effective control mechanisms. For example, under the above Act, an offender is liable only to a fine not exceeding Rs. 2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both. In a recently reported incident where poachers were arrested for use or possession of “Hakka Patas,” the offenders were released for as little as Rs. 5,000 bail. Such amounts need to be adjusted to current inflation rates to effectively penalize poachers and be an effective deterrent for future offences.

 

Challenges in Regulating “Hakka Patas”

However, pragmatic enforcement of the law against “Hakka Patas” will be challenging due to the fact that the explosive itself and its component ingredients are widely and easily available. “Hakka Patas” are reportedly sold openly for just Rs. 400. Poachers are also able to manufacture them by mixing stones with gunpowder taken from “Cheena Patas” (Chinese crackers), firecrackers that are readily available on the market.

Therefore, the use of these explosives will have to be curbed through constant monitoring by police and wildlife officials in the remote agrarian areas, and frequent raids, which raise practical concerns of access.

Even though the access to gun powder is sought to be regulated by the Explosives Act, in reality, insufficient enforcement enables the production and dispersal of these home-made explosives. However, farmers’ concerns about crop-raiding wild animals cannot be overlooked. The interests of farmers and the protection of wild animals against inhumane methods of control are difficult to balance. It is necessary to use alternative means rather than crude explosives to address the legitimate issues of farmers.

There are no easy answers to this perennial problem and all stakeholders, including the farming community, law enforcement, legislators, and educators, must cooperate and formulate a feasible strategy that protects both animals and farmers.

 

Sources

  1. Explosives Act No. 21 of 1956
  2. Romesh Madushanka, ‘Baby Elephant Found Killed By Hakka Patas’, Daily Mirror, October 24, 2018.
  3. ‘Dealing with “Hakka Patas”’, Daily News Editorial, August 20, 2016.
  4. Nimal Wijesinghe, ‘Hakka patas taking a heavy toll on elephants’, Daily News, July 14, 2013.
  5. Athula Bandara, ‘Hakka patas inserted in vegetables brings slow, painful death to elephants’, The Sunday Times, December 26, 2010.
  6. Harshi Gunawardana, ‘‘Hakka Patas’: The killer trap’, Daily Mirror, August 22, 2016.
  7. Dr Rohan H Wickramasinghe , ‘‘Hakka patas’: Animal rights and related matters’, The Island, August 21, 2017.
  8. Fined for keeping Hakkapatas, accessed on http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=police-legal/fined-keeping-hakkapatas.
  9. Malaka Rodrigo, ‘Hakka Patas set to become Elephant Killer No. 1’, The Sunday Times, February 3, 2013.

සත්ත්ව  හිංසනයෙන් තොර ශ්‍රී ලංකාවකවට සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනත සම්මත කිරීම

 

රමේෂ් වැරල්ලගම

 

 

ලොව බිහිවන සෑම ජීවියකුටම ඇති පළමු අයිතිය ජීවත්වීමේ අයිතියයි. මිනිසුන්ට මෙන්ම සත්ත්වයන්ට ද එම අයිතිය එක හා සමානය. මිනිස් අයිතිවාසිකම් සම්බන්ධයෙන් කොතෙකුත් අණ පනත් නීති රාමු පැනවුව ද සත්ත්වයන්ගේ අයිතින් වෙනුවෙන් එ වැනි අණ පනත් හෝ නීති පැනවෙන්නේ  ඉතා මංදගාමීව ය.

චාලි මේ කතාව නැවත අලුත් කළේය. තිරිසනකු ලෙස ඉපදුනත්, මිනිසුන්ගේ ආදරය කරුණාව දයාව මෛත්‍රිය සමග ජීවත්වීමට සිහින දුටු චාලි, මිනිසුන් ලෙස ඉපදී තිරිසනුන් ලෙස ක්‍රියා කරන මිනිසුන් ගැන පණිවුඩයක් තබා නික්ම ගියේය.

මේ සිදුවීම දැන් නොදන්නා කෙනෙක් නැති තරම්ය. මීගමුව කොප්පරා හංදිය අසල ව්‍යාපාරික නිවසක සුරතලයට ඇති දැඩිවූ චාලි සුනඛයා පසුගිය 31 වැනිදා රාත්‍රියේ ජීවිතය හා මරණය අතර සටනක නියැලුණේ ය . ඒ ස්වභාවිකව ඇති වූ  රෝගී තත්ත්වයකින් නොවේ.

කිසියම් මිනිස් තිරිසනකු ලැබ්‍රෙඩෝ වර්ගයේ මෙම සුනඛයා ගිනි තබා තිබිණි. භූමිතෙල් ගසා පිළිස්සෙන චාලිට මෙම අවාසනාවන්ත ඉරණමෙන් මිදී පළායාමට හෝ අවස්ථාවක් නොවීය. ඊට හේතු වී තිබුණේ රාත්‍රියේ නිවැසියන් ද  නින්දට ගොස් සිටි නිසා චාලි ගේ කුඩුව වසා තිබීමයි.

ගිනි ගන්නා තමන්ගේ සිරුරේ වේදනාව චාලි ට හොදින්ම දැනෙන්ට වද්දී මහ හඩින් කෑ ගැසීම හැර වෙනත් පිළිසරණ  පැතීමේ භාෂාවක් චාලි දැන සිටියේ නැත. එන්න එන්න ම චාලිගේ විලාපයෙන් කොප්පරා හංදිය වෙලී ගියේය. චාලි රැක බලා ගත් ව්‍යාපාරිකයා, බිරිද සහ ඇයගේ පුතා නිවසේ දොර විවෘත කර බලන විට සුරතල් චාලිගේ කූඩුව එක ම ගිනි ජාලාවකින් වැසී තිබිණි.

වහා ක්‍රියාත්මක වී චාලිගේ හාම්පුතුන් ගින්න නිවා දැමුව ද ඒ වන විටත් චාලිගේ ශරීරය පුරා පිළිස්සුම් තුවාල ය. ගින්නෙන් පිළිස්සුණු  සිරුරේ අභ්‍යන්තරව ගලන වේදනාවන් කියා ගන්නට තරම් හඩඟා  කෑ ගසන්නටවත් චාලි ට ශක්තියක් තිබුණේ නැත. රාත්‍රි කෑම ලැබුණු පිඟාන පවා  ගිනි ගෙන ය.

කොළඹ සත්ත්ව රෝහලකට ගෙනවිත් ප්‍රතිකාර ලබන තෙක් තම පණ නල රැකගත් චාලි මේ නො මිනිස්කම් පිරුණු සමාජයේ තවත් ජීවත්වී පලක් ඇත්දැයි තමන්ම සිහි කර තීන්දුවක් ගත්තා මෙන් පැය කිහිපයක් තුළ මිය ගියේය.

මිය යාමට පෙර සුරතල් වු චාලි සහ ඇඟ පුරා පිළිසුම් තුවාල මැද ජීවිතයට සුසුම්ලන චාලිගේ වීඩියෝ පට සහ ඡායාරූප සමාජ ජාල කළඹමින් ලොව පුරා විසිරෙන්නට ගත්තේ ඒ අවසරයෙනි.

ගිනි තබා මරා දැමු චාලි, සිය මරණයෙන් සත්ත්ව අවිංසාවාදය නැවත කරළියට ගෙනාවේය.අද නොවේ හෙට බාලගිරි දෝෂය සිහි කැඳ වමින් සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන පණත හමස් පෙට්ටියේ දමා මුණිවත රකින නිලධාරින්, ඇමැතිවරුන් සහ පාලකයන්ගේ දෑස් විවර කරන්නට චාලි යම් හෝ ප්‍රයත්නයක් දැරුවේය.

1907 අංක 13 සත්ත්ව හිංසා වැළැක්වීමේ ආඥාපනත මේ දක්වා සත්ත්වයන්ට ඇති එකම පිළිසරණයි. වසර සියයකට අධික කාලයක් ගතවී ඇතත් අද ට ගැලපෙන ලෙස සත්ත්ව අයිතිවාසිකම් නීතියකට ගෙන ඒමට රටක් ලෙස අප අපොහොසත්වී තිබේ.

2016 ජනවාරි මාසයේ කැබිනට් අනුමැතිය ලැබුණු සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන පනත් කෙටුම්පත පාර්ලිමේන්තුවට ඉදිරිප ත්කර සම්මත කර ගැනීමට මේ දක්වා හැකිවී නැත. වන සතුන් ගැන විවිධ අණ පනත් අලුත්  වූව ද පොදුවේ සත්ත්වයන් වෙනුවෙන් ගෙන එන සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනතක අවශ්‍යතාවය ගැන රජය සිටිනුයේ නිද්‍රාශීලිව ය.

‘මීගමුවේ චාලි සුනඛයාගේ සිද්ධිය පමණක් නෙමෙයි. පසුගිය කාලය පුරාම සත්ත්ව හිංසන සිද්ධි වර්තා වුණා. අප දිගින් දිගටම සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන පනත පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ සම්මත කළ යුතු යැයි අරගලයක නිරත වන්නෙ ඒ නිසයි.අදටත් ක්‍රියාත්මක වන්නේ  1907 හඳුන්වා  දුන් නීතියක්.. අද රටට ගැලපෙන විධියට මේ නීති අලුත්වන්නට අවශ්‍ය  යි. අප රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා  සිටින්නේ  සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනත හැකි ඉක්මනින් පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ සම්මත කර එම අණ පනත් නීතියක් බවට පත් කිරීම’ යැයි සත්ත්ව සුබසාධන හවුලේ කැදවුම්කරු නීතිඥ වොසිතා විජේනායක මහත්මිය පැවැසුවා ය.

ඒ නිසා මීගමුව පොලිසිය මේ වනවිට අදාල සිද්ධිය සම්බන්ධයෙන් අදහස් පළ කර ඇත..

මීගමුව පොලිසියේ වැඩ බලන ස්ථානාධිපති ප්‍රධාන පොලිස් පරීක්ෂක  යු.පී.එස් ප්‍රියන්ත මහතා ගේ උපදෙස් පරිදි සැරයන් රාජපක්ෂ (31097) සහ කොස්තාපල් ඉන්දික (39304) පරීක්ෂණ පවත්වති.

‘අපි දැනට පරීක්ෂණ ක්‍රියාත්මක කරනවා. නමුත් මේ දක්වා සැකකරුවකු අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන නැහැ’ යැයි මීගමුව පොලිසියේ නිලධාරියෙක් සලයිකැන් භාරය කළ විමසීමේ දී සදහන් කළේය.

වෙනත් කතා මෙන් චාලි ගේ කතාව ද තවත් දවස් ගණනකින් අමතකව යෑම සමාජ යථාර්ථයකි. නමුත් චාලි දුක්ඛිත මරණයකින් මියගියේ අනෙක් සත්ව වර්ගයාට ද නිදහසේ මරණයට හෝ යොමු වීමේ නෛතික අයිතියක් තිබිය යුතු බව පසක් කරමිනි.

මිනිස්සු තිරසනුන් විදියට වැඩ කරන විට අප අසා තිබෙන සුලබ වදන් පෙළක් තිබේ. ඒ බලු වැඩ කරන්න එපා මිනිහෝ යන්නයි.

නමුත් දිග අදිමින් බාලගිරි දෝෂයට ලක් වූ  සත්ත්ව සුබ සාධන පනත පාර්ලිමේන්තුවට ඉදිරිපත් කිරීමට මැලිවන රජයේ බලධාරින්, ඇමැතිවරු මෙන්ම පාලකයන් ගැන චාලි දැන් සිටින තැනකට වී කල්පනා කරනවා විය හැක.

බලු වැඩ කරන්න එපා මිනිහෝ යැයි චාලි තිරිසන් මිනිස්සු සිහිපත් කරමින් නො කියවනවා නම් පුදුම ය.


The Plight of the Pangolin: Biodiversity Trade and Trafficking

By Amayaa Wijesinghe

 

The recent nabbing of a frozen pangolin in the kitchens of a Chinese restaurant in the heart of Colombo has shed a much-needed spotlight on the importance of curbing the illegal exploitation of these shy mammals which are a globally endangered species, and nationally a near threatened one.  There are four species of Pangolin restricted to Asia. The one found in Sri Lanka is the Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), and is commonly called the Scaly Ant-eater (Sinhala: “Kaballawa”, “Aya”; Tamil: “Alungu”). Pangolins can be identified by the distinctive scales which cover their entire body, and they are found in both the wet and dry zones of Sri Lanka.

Although Pangolin meat, scales and bile have been used extensively in traditional Indian and South-East Asian medicines, there is no evidence that Pangolins in Sri Lanka were hunted for medicinal or Ayurvedic purposes. In Sri Lanka, pangolins are prized as bush meat. They usually get entangled in traps left for other animals such as porcupines, and are consumed by local communities. There is no past evidence to suggest that a roaring illegal trade was present in the country.

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Increasing market demand

Today, the Indian Pangolin in Sri Lanka is under severe hunting pressure due to the rising demand for its scales and meat in East Asian markets, especially in the Chinese markets, according to the IUCN Red List 2018. The scales are either used whole or in powdered form in traditional medicines and as curios. The Indian Pangolin’s skin has also been used in leather manufacturing, particularly as footwear.

The market demand in the species available in Sri Lanka is driven even more today by the fact that the numbers of the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) and the Malayan Pangolin (Manis javanica) have significantly fallen due to trafficking, forcing smugglers and illegal traders to look towards alternative species of Pangolin, like the one present in Sri Lanka.

A booming illegal trade

It is suspected that Indian Pangolin populations worldwide will fall by at least 50% by 2039, if the demand and supply continue to rise unchecked. The IUCN has estimated that pangolin trade in just the last decade has seen over a million individuals crossing international borders, giving this shy mammal the dubious title of “World’s Most Trafficked Mammal”.

The market price for Pangolins have been known to start at $ 600 (Rs. 100,000) for a kilo of scales, and a kilo of meat can sell for anything upwards of $250 (Rs. 40,000). These values are double what they were in 2008, indicative of growing demand. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency, the known seizures of pangolin scales since December 2016 total more than 14 tonnes worldwide, and around 20,000 individual pangolins may have been hunted to supply this amount. This is the conservative estimate, and it’s alarming.

Last year, the Customs Department of Sri Lanka has reported four cases of pangolin products being caught at the Bandaranaike International Airport. In each case, the smuggler’s destination has been Chennai, India. The largest pangolin-related bust in Sri Lanka took place last year as well, when police in Kalpitiya discovered 130 kg of pangolin scales in the possession of 5 persons in a house near the Kalpitiya Lagoon. Wildlife experts estimate that approximately 150 pangolins may have been killed to extract the skutes. Police reported that these scales were earmarked for export to India.

Pangolins are nationally protected in Sri Lanka by the Flora and Fauna Protection (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 2009 (included in Schedule ll). The National IUCN Red List (2012) lists it as a Near Threatened species in the country. It is listed as endangered in the Global IUCN Red List. This makes it illegal to hunt and be in possession of a Pangolin or Pangolin products within country borders (or any other wildlife or flora protected by the Ordinance), and perpetrators stand to face penalties including fines and imprisonment.

A wake up call

The pangolin has never really penetrated into the public’s consciousness as a mammal which needs conservation in quite the same way that elephants or leopards have. This may be due to the fact that it is rarely seen by humans, being an elusive nocturnal eater of ants and termites. They also rarely survive in captivity. Only six zoos in the world have any, making it a mammal that is relatively unknown, especially in the West.

The recent nabbing of the frozen pangolin in Colombo has sparked public interest in protecting local biodiversity, and authorities such as the Department of Wildlife Conservation should use the momentum created to strengthen efforts to protect this scaly mammal. The crackdowns must come fast and strong, in order the nip the growing local demand in the bud.

The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife and other research bodies need to take up the mandate of carrying out more research regarding the numbers and habits of the pangolin in Sri Lanka. If not, we stand to lose this beautiful creature before we have even understood it.

The scourge of illegal wildlife trafficking has placed many species under enormous threat. The fight against it must become equally powerful in order to prevent mass extinctions in our generation.


Need for Immediate Enactment of the Animal Welfare Bill

By Avanthi Jayasuriya

Last year witnessed an escalation in the incidents of animal cruelty in Sri Lanka, ranging from the culling of strays and the culling of elephants. While the cruelty prevails, there remains a marked lacuna in terms of the laws and regulations that govern issues related to animal welfare in the country, causing the perpetrators to go unpunished and victims to be left without justice. Moving forward in 2018, it is imperative and timely to reflect on the current status of the long overdue Animal Welfare Bill.

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Existing legislation relating to animal welfare

In Sri Lanka, the legislature on animal welfare is determined by the framework provided under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of 1907. The Ordinance was last amended in 1955 and has since seen no changes. Among the many shortcomings of the outdated legislation, the definition of the term “animal” can be highlighted as limited and narrow. The 1907 Ordinance applies only to a domestic or a captured animal which includes any bird, fish, or reptile in captivity. Regardless of the increase in urban wildlife at present, the term has not extended its reach to incorporate urban wildlife within its parameters or punishment to offenders. It further excludes animals which are not domesticated or caged. This narrow perspective allows for very limited species of animals to be protected.

The concept of duty of care is another major deficiency in the Ordinance of 1907.  The concept refers  to responsible ownership of pets by their owners; the lack of which has drastic implications on the welfare of animals. Therefore, the inclusion of the concept is important in ensuring that pet owners will not abandon animals, and will act responsibly towards them by providing uninterrupted basic care. Moreover, the violation of such conduct would lead to legal prosecution and would lessen incidents of abuse at the hands of pet owners.

Status of draft Animal Welfare Bill

The need for a new legal framework to govern the issues related to animal welfare in the country was noted by many civil society organizations and as a result the new animal welfare bill was drafted in 2006 by the Law Commission, with the support of the interested parties. Almost a decade in the making, the draft bill was open for public comments under the Ministry of Rural Economic Affairs in 2015. Following the proposed changes received by the public consultation, the Cabinet approval for the Bill was received on January 13, 2016, after which the Bill was passed to the legal draftsman for the changes to be incorporated into it and for it to be drafted with the changes included. Yet, it has been over a year since the passing of the Animal Welfare Bill and the time for enactment has never been more urgent.

Recent measures taken to address animal welfare

The National Budget for 2018 had some considerations for animals and their welfare including the allocation of Rs. 75 Billion for the conversion of the zoo to an open zoo concept where the animals will no longer be caged, but be able to move around with more freedom as per international best practices. The Budget proposals also contained the restructuring of the Pinnawela elephant orphanage to be ‘Born Free-Chain Free’, initiating mahout training programmes. While these initiatives are commendable, ensuring animal welfare in the long run will fall short without a holistic legislative framework such as the Animal Welfare Bill in place which mandates the rules and regulations determining the welfare of animals.

Why the enactment of the animal welfare bill needs to be accelerated

In the past year, stories of extermination of stray cats and dogs within public and private premises and the culling of tuskers, cruelty towards captive elephants have become commonplace occurrences. These horrific acts of cruelty leave no doubt that it is time for more urgent and concrete action on animal welfare in the country.

It is high time that we changed these outdated laws and made sure that the long- overdue Animal Welfare Bill is passed for efficient action against cruelty to animals, where appropriate punitive action can be taken against offenders and issues relating to urban wildlife and captive animals can be solved in a comprehensive manner. In conclusion, it is pivotal that the Bill should be passed for enactment at the earliest possible, in order to provide for an effective and efficient legal framework to address cruelty towards animals in Sri Lanka.


Forgotten Victims of Floods

Sri Lankans experienced yet again the impact of floods in the aftermath of, what has been called the worst torrential rain since 2003. Over half a million people have been affected in 54 districts of the country. In its latest report published on 04.06.2017, the Disaster Management Center of Sri Lanka has reported that due to the flood and landslide conditions caused by incessant rains across Sri Lanka, 717,622 People belonging to 184,265 families were affected in 15 Districts with the current death toll reaching 212, and more than 79 people still reported missing.

Island wide rescue operations and relief campaigns have been carried out uniting people beyond race, caste and language barriers. However, while these actions remind us of the intrinsic compassion and benevolence of humanity, there remains a forgotten portion of victims, to whom this kindness is not always extended. We often tend to overlook the wellbeing of our voiceless friends- the animals that surround us, be it the much adored pet at home or the stray animals that roam the streets. Leaving them behind to be victimized by disaster- die or suffer injuries without treatment, contradicts the humanity we believe in.

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While animal lovers and animal welfare communities have taken noteworthy action in the form of rescue efforts and rehabilitation of animals in many areas, these efforts need to be carried out in a more coordinated and expanded manner. Given the increased frequency with which we are experiencing disasters in Sri Lanka, the need for such measures ensuring the welfare of animals in disaster and post disaster situations are more urgent than ever.

Animals are more vulnerable to disasters than humans and the number of animal casualties needs to be accounted for. In the disasters such as the floods that we experienced, the wellbeing of household pets are overlooked as they are often left chained or caged depriving them of means to escape and survive disaster conditions. Many posts and pictures of the disaster struck areas depict animals stranded without means of escape. We as individuals could do our part in ensuring the welfare of animals in disaster contexts.

Possible actions you can take:

  • Be a responsible pet owner- while being conscious of saving your own self, make sure you safeguard the wellbeing of your pets either by removing them from disaster situations by ensuring that they are unencumbered and are able to flee in case of impending danger
  • Do not abandon animals- have carriers or transportation means for your pets on hand
  • Vaccinate animals to prevent the spread of diseases
  • Put up notices if animals are left behind and are in need of rescuing
  • In case of urgent evacuation, make sure the animals are left with enough food and water to last
  • Provide a way to trace the animals you live with if they become lost
  • Be vigilant of any animals that are in need of rescuing
  • Alert authorities in case of rescue of wild animals
  • Notify animal rescue organizations if you need help evacuating animals

 

Apart from these measures action needs to be taken to incorporate the wellbeing of animals in community level planning. In the face of escalating disaster incidences in Sri Lanka, we need to ensure that adaptation measures and disaster risk reduction systems should incorporate the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in disaster and port-disaster situations as well.