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Over 55 elephants illegally captured from the wild between 2008 and 2018

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By Ifham Nizam

More than 55 elephants had been illegally captured from the wild between January 2008 and December 2018, but the law enforcement had failed to bring the culprits to justice, researcher T. G. Supun Lahiru Prakash of Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle said yesterday.

Prakash is part of a team that studied the illegal trade of elephants in Sri Lanka.

He said: “We collected data from case records maintained by the country’s court system, where the suspects of illegal elephant trade were prosecuted in addition to information gathered by archives and interviews with various stakeholders. We documented 55 cases where elephants were illegally traded.

This is probably an underestimate due to the high mortality rate of elephants during capture operations and challenges in collecting data on this highly organised illicit trade.”

Out of these, 33 elephants had been registered, while 17 were not registered, he said. Prakash said three were under government letters of patent, and no information was available of two elephants.

“We found records of 55 cases of suspected smuggled elephants. Forty-six of those elephants had an identity reported with a name. Twenty-four elephants were females and 23 were males, while the sex of eight elephants was not reported. Two elephants were identified as calves, 14 as juveniles (2 – 5 years old), 29 as sub-adults (6 – 10 years old), four as adults and six were not aged.”

They had identified a major gap between the reported age in the registration documents and the estimated age of elephants by the veterinarians of the Department of Wildlife, Prakash said. The average reported age in the registration documents of elephants according to their licenses was higher than the estimated age by the veterinarians; the difference was statistically significant, he said.

“Significantly, more elephants were found to be seized in 2014–2015 than in other time periods combined. We found evidence of the illegal capture of wild elephants from wildlife protected areas and state forests. More importantly, we identified evidence of corruption of wildlife officers, involvement of politicians and other high-ranking personnel in the illegal wildlife trade, and lack of active enforcement of wildlife law as major challenges to overcome the illegal capture and domestic trade in wild elephants in Sri Lanka.”

The research team comprised W.A.A.D. Upul Indrajith, A. M. C. P. Attanayaka (Department of Wildlife Conservation, Jayanthipura Road, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka), Suranjan Karunarathna (Nature Explorations and Education Team), Madhava Boteju (Biodiversity Conservation Society), Vincent Nijman (Department of Social Sciences, Gipsy Lane, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK) and Sujan Henkanaththegedara (Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia, USA).



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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka

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Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland

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By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal

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By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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