Wildlife Policy Should Be Revisited

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By 2017-09-13

By Rishini Jayarathna

The Deputy Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training, Karunarathna Paranawithana spoke to Ceylon Today recently and stated that wildlife policy should be revisited due to the continuous human-animal conflict.
According to Deputy Minister Paranawithana, there are five animals that are a threat to human beings. They are wild elephants, crocodiles, peacocks, monkeys, and wild boars. The human-elephant conflict is the most critical issue. Several residents who live near animal sanctuaries have complained to Deputy Minister Paranawithana.

He noted: "There are 6000 elephants in Sri Lankan Jungles. The jungles can only accommodate 4000 elephants. We cannot kill the rest of the elephants. In my opinion, we should either gift wild elephants or sell wild elephants. They can be gifted to temples, but they should not be used for heavy work. They can also be sold to foreign countries and protected." Deputy Minister Paranawithana also expressed his views regarding the conflict between human beings and wild boars.

"Wild boars can be removed from the endangered species list. Once this is done, people will have the opportunity to hunt them. Killing wild boars is no longer a punishable offence." "There is no strategy to deal with monkeys and peacocks. I have no idea how to deal with them," he added.

In his opinion, only endangered species should be protected, and the other animals should be controlled. Animal overpopulation has become a huge issue.

Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera responded and stated: "Deputy Minister Paranawithana does not know the rule of law. We cannot export 2000 wild elephants. There are international policies and procedures. We have to abide by them. To which country are we going to export our wild elephants?"
Furthermore, he said: "Even I don't know the statistics of the elephants living in Sri Lanka. So, Deputy Minister Paranawithana cannot abruptly say that there is a surplus of elephants in Sri Lanka."

Minister Perera stated that the World Bank will conduct a survey in collaboration with the Ministry of Wildlife in January 2018. "The surveyors will walk 25-30 km in all the Sri Lankan jungles and national parks such as Udawalawe, Yala, Kumana, etc. Statistics regarding wildlife in general, and elephants in particular, will be obtained."

Minister Perera added that one way to control wild elephants is by using electric fences. That way, wild elephants will not be able to enter human habitat. Another method is birth control. However, nothing can be done until the survey is complete.
According to Minister Perera, human beings have started encroaching on jungles and this is the reason why animals have started playing up. Peacocks and monkeys enter the city when their habitat has been destroyed. Human beings need to be more responsible.



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