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10 jackals killed to prevent rabies in Milleniya

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by Ifham Nizam

Ten Sri Lankan jackals (Canis aereus naria) have been killed so far with the assistance of the police to prevent rabies in Milleniya, Horana in the Kalutata distinct, a senior official of the Department of Wildlife Conservation said.

“There was no option but to kill the rabies- infected jackals”, he noted.

“We were very systematic in our approach. We don’t like to kill animals but it was beyond our control and with the Covid-19 spread in most parts of the country, we had to act fast,” the official said.

However, villagers were not given the authority to carry out the task, he said. “Some animals did have natural deaths due to rabies infection.”

When jackals are infected with rabies, they have a tendency to attack people and animals, the official explained. “Otherwise, they are generally very shy, especially when it comes to people.”

The threat is under control now, though there’s an ongoing battle between the villagers and jackals especially at nights and early in the morning, he further said.

The Sri Lanka jackal (Canis aereus naria), a subspecies of the golden jackal, is the country’s only wild canid.

Jackals are widespread hunters and scavengers; thus, animal activists strongly believe any attempt to cull them would lead to ecological imbalances across its range.

An animal activist said the Wildlife Department failed to take timely action to neutralize the threat. “This led to dozens of jackals being killed. We were told villagers in Milleniya are now carrying out frequent attacks”.

Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, according to the World Health Organization. It accounts for nearly 99 per cent of all rabies transmissions to humans globally.

Dog bites account for about 96 per cent of all animal bites in Sri Lanka, while another 2% come through domesticated cats. Wild animals accounted only for two per cent of reported cases.

Reported cases of rabies in different species in Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2014, based on data from the government’s Medical Research Institute (MRI) and the Department of Animal Production and Health, had not included jackals in the list of 18 animals.

The jackals with rabies in Milleniya must have contracted the disease from dogs, an expert says.

Veterinarians will inoculate the dogs in the area, Director of Wildlife at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya, Dr. Tharaka Prasad told The Sunday Island.

“We have found dogs with rabies in the area and the jackals must have contracted rabies from them. We are confident the vaccination program could be completed soon. We have ruled out the use of a rabies bait vaccine (a sachet containing a rabies vaccine) for the jackals as it would lead to other complications’, he added.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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