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Environment Minister opposes arming farmers to fight crop damage caused by wild animals

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.. wants more humane methods like controlling their breeding

By Ifham Nizam

Arming farmers is not a solution to the problem of crop damage caused by various animals, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera says.

Amaraweera says he strongly believes that prior to making such decisions, relevant institutions should conduct a proper study on the latest scientific and traditional methods of warding off animals that damage crops.

“It has been revealed that about 40 percent of the crops grown by farmers in our country are destroyed annually by wild animals such as monkeys, peacocks, wild boar and Rock Squirrels and porcupines.”

Answering queries, the minister said that even though farmers had requested air rifles or shotguns, he had not complied with their request.

The minister said methods that could reduce their breeding rather than killing wildlife and new technologies that could and should be used by way of a solution.

An electrical device introduced in Kahathewela, Bandarawela to chase away wild animals has been a success. The use of the machine had helped minimise crop damage. The government should provide firearms to farmers only if the relevant farmers had cultivated more than one hectare.

The issuance of firearms should be done strictly on the recommendation of the Grama Niladharis, Divisional Secretaries and District Secretaries. They should also regulate the manner in which the weapons were used. No one should be allowed to kill innocent animals just because they were given a weapon, the Minister said .

“However, I do not think this method is a solution. The extinction of predators is the reason for the increase in the population of some animals, coupled with relentless deforestation, land grabbing, and destruction of  animal habitats by humans. Therefore, the officials of the relevant institutions should try out new technologies. Then crop damage caused by animals can be minimised.

As the Minister of Environment, I see a solution only through the implementation of a balanced programme in which human beings and animals can coexist,” he said.

Conservation Organisations Against Environmental Destruction, consisting of all leading science/environmental organisations in Sri Lanka last week came together to condemn land grabbing calling it as an environmental catastrophe.

Recent proposal by Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage to provide shotguns to farmers with more than one acre of land was a very short-sighted move, they said.

“Can Minister Mahindananda or the government guarantee that those guns will not only endanger the lives of animals but also the lives of human beings,” environmentalists queried.

The groups consist of Centre for Environmental Justice, Protect Sri Lanka, Otara Foundation, Rally for Animal Right & Environment, Federation of Environmental Organizations, Wildlife & Nature Protection Society, Research Circle, Leopocon Sri Lanka, Arunodaya Environmentalist, Movement of Land & Agriculture Reform, Sri Lanka Nature Group FIAN Sri Lanka, Lanka Nature Conservationist, Wild forum, Rain Forest Protectors and Young Zoologists Association of Sri Lanka.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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