GOVERNMENT GETS TOUGH ON WILDLIFE CRIMINALS | Sunday Observer

GOVERNMENT GETS TOUGH ON WILDLIFE CRIMINALS

Responding to the brutal killings of several tuskers over the past few weeks, the government has adopted immediate measures to counter wildlife criminals.

As the first step of the process, a new ‘Wildlife Force’ will be set up to battle wildlife crimes and criminals, Minister of Wildlife and Sustainable Development, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera told the Sunday Observer.

“The new unit will also be given weapons training. At present, we don’t have trained officers to effectively counter armed criminals,” the Minister said.

This unit, according to the Minister, will operate under the Director General of Wildlife. He said that similar mechanisms are currently in place, in Bhutan and several African countries. The Minister said this unit would also detect poachers, prevent the felling of trees in nature reserves and curb other forms of wildlife offences.

“Recently, there were three incidents where baby elephants were found tethered to trees in Udawalawe, Gonagal Aru and the Menik Ganga area. We suspect that they were tied up in this manner for the purpose of smuggling the animals across international borders. Blood ivory from Sri Lanka is in very high demand in certain foreign countries,” the Minister said.

The Wildlife Ministry will also seek Cabinet approval next week to deploy the Police, the STF and military to protect wildlife parks and sanctuaries across the country.

The involvement of law enforcement bodies has been sought due to human capital issues faced by the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Wildlife, Douglas Nanayakkara said stringent punitive action will be introduced against wildlife criminals.

“The officers of the new unit will patrol alongside a wildlife officers and capture poachers and others committing wildlife offences,” the Minister said.

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