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Human-elephant conflict continues to take heavy toll; 219 jumbos and 89 people so far this year

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By Ifham Nizam

The Department of Wildlife Conservation has recorded 219 jumbo deaths up to August 11 this year mainly from human-elephant conflict. During the same period, 89 people were killed in elephant attacks.

A Senior Department official told The Island that 160 elephant deaths and 56 human deaths had been recorded during the same period in 2020.

Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle of Sri Lanka Convener Supun Lahiru Prakash, who is also one of the authorities on Sri Lankan elephants, told The Island that the number of deaths due to human-elephant conflicts was on the rise and alarming.

In 2020, 327 elephant deaths had been reported as against 113 human fatalities due to elephant attacks, he said.

The environmental scientist stressed that the human-elephant conflict had escalated recently and it was time the government implemented recommendations made by a team of experts, headed by eminent elephant researcher Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando.

“From 2016 to 2020, we have lost at least 1,578 elephants and the majority of them have died due to anthropogenic reasons. When compared with the 1992 – 2001 period, the present annual death rate of elephants shows about a 90 percent rise. This is a 30% increase when compared with the 2005–2010 period. It is the highest annual death rate of elephants in the world.”

A sharp decrease in the elephant home ranges and repeating the failed mitigation measures were among the factors that have led to an increase in the human-elephant conflict in the county, according to experts, Prakash said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a multi-stakeholder committee chaired by eminent elephant researcher Dr Prithiviraj Fernando to prepare the “National Action Plan for the Mitigation of Human-Elephant Conflict”, which was prepared and handed over to the government last December.

However, the government was yet to implement the proposal, Prakash said.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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