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SL’s short-sighted development policies have worsened Human-Elephant conflict – Ex Wildlife DG



by Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka seems to have adopted short-sighted development policies that have aggravated the Human-Elephant conflict (HEC), former Wildlife Department Director-General, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya said, while adding that little has changed in the approach towards mitigating the conflict over the past 60 years.

“The mitigation measures have been ineffective as evidenced by the rapidly escalating casualties among both humans and elephants, resulting in Sri Lanka being listed as the country with the highest casualties from the HEC in the world”, he told a discussion on the National Symposium on Human-Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka held at the Waters Edge Hotel last week.

The event was organized by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ).

“It is therefore time for a paradigm shift in our approach towards mitigating the HEC. A road map for this purpose was prepared by a Presidential Committee appointed to formulate a National Action Plan for Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation and submitted to the government in November 2020”, Pilapitiya noted.

The National Action Plan was worked out on the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa but it has been pigeonholed at the President’s office, while the authorities continue to violate the recommendations in it, says Supun Lahiru Prakash, Elephant Researcher and Convener of the Biodiversity Conservation and Research Circle.

A multi-stakeholder committee was chaired by eminent Asian elephant researcher and expert, Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando and the report was handed over to the government on December 17, 2020. Though three months have elapsed, nothing had happened, he complained.

He said that the average human death rate due to HEC in Sri Lanka was 71 from 2005–2010 and 54 from 1992–2001. The human death rate increased by about 14% from the previous decade and by about 50% in comparison to the past two decades. The number of deaths in this connection spiked to 112 in 2020, which reflects a sharp increase.

On the other hand, 272 elephants died on an average every year between 2011 and 2020 and exceeded 400 in 2020. In 2005–2010, the elephant death rate was 200 and in 1992–2001 it was 137. Therefore, the elephant death rate has increased by about 31% from the previous decade and by about 92% from two decades ago. The elephant death rate shot up to 300 plus for the first time in 2018 and to 400 the following year. The deaths in 2019 are double the average from a decade ago, he noted.

Wildlife Department officials have no knowledge in implementing policies and the position they have now adopted will result in farmers being denied firearms to control wild animals, said Senior Professor Devaka Weerakoon of the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences.

“The fallout of this would be the caging of more and more troublesome animals as the Wildlife Ministry Secretary says that steps have been taken to capture animals”, he pointed out.

“I don’t understand how people think in terms of caging all troublesome animal species”, he added.

He said pressure should be exerted on the government for an immediate course corrective measures. The situation should not be allowed to go from bad to worse.

Scientist, Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando said that data has been obtained on the movement of elephants by radio tracking almost 100 animals. Countrywide surveys have also been conducted on elephant distribution.

“We have assessed the impact of management actions on elephants and the responses to them. Now, we know that elephants in Sri Lanka do not migrate long distances but live in home ranges of around 20,000 ha that may be completely inside or outside protected areas,” he noted.

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Report on child protection delivered to President




The Committee appointed to Study and Make Recommendations for the Protection of Children handed over their comprehensive report to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday (03) evening.

This committee was established on April 19, 2023, to study and provide recommendations for the protection, care and overall welfare of children who have been subjected to various forms of violence within Sri Lanka.

Over the course of nearly five months, the committee conducted 21 meetings to gain an in-depth understanding of the existing issues and to formulate practical recommendations. The committee comprised a diverse group of members, including representatives from institutions such as Children Homes, Remand Homes, Certified Homes, Child Development Centres, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions & Associations, Principals of Schools, Civil Society Organizations, Telecommunication and Digital Service Providers, Telecommunication Regulators, Digital Crime Security Experts, Lions Club, Rotaract Club, representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Colleges of Medicine, Solicitors General from the Attorney General’s Department, National Child Protection Authority, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Family Health Bureau, Foreign Employment Bureau, Sri Lanka Women’s’ Bureau and officials from the Ministries in charge of Women & Children and Education.

The report, which was completed and submitted to the President yesterday, addresses a wide range of issues concerning child protection, including issues related to institutionalized environments, lack of parental care, family separation, digital media exposure, child labour and more. The committee also evaluated the adequacy of existing institutional, administrative and legal safeguards for child protection, aiming to meet the demands of modern society.

Furthermore, the report explores strategies to enhance the physical and mental health of children who have experienced various forms of violence, abuse and neglect. It also delves into the concerning trend of children engaging in violent acts and seeks innovative approaches for community participation in child care initiatives

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Landslide Early Warnings Issued to Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts extended




Automated Landslide Early Warning Map issued by the Landslide Early Warning Center of the NBRO

The landslide early warnings issued by the landslide early warning center of the National Building Research Organisation to the districts of Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts have been extended untill 1630 hrs today.

Level II landslid early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of  Neluwa in the Galle district, Ingiriya in the Kalutara district, Pasbage Korale in the Kandy district, Kotapola and Pitabeddara in the Matara district, Ayagama, Kuruwita, Pelmadulla, Nivithigala, Kiriella, Ratnapura, Elapatha, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana in the Ratnapura district.

Level I landslide early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Seethawaka in the Colombo district, Elpitiya in the Galle district, Walasmulla in the Hambanthota district, Mathugama, Buathsinhala, Aggalawaththa and Walallawita in the Kalutara district, Yatiyanthota, Kegalle and Dehiowita in the Kegalle district, Athureliya and Mulatiyana in the Matara district and Imbulpe and Kolonna in the Ratnapura district

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Opposition: Judge’s resignation has tarnished Lanka’s image



He should have taken action against those who threatened him – govt.

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that there were serious questions and concerns about the independence of the judiciary following the resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge T. Saravanarajah, citing threats and harassment.

“This is a serious issue and the government should conduct an independent inquiry into this matter immediately,” Premadasa said.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said the judge’s resignation, citing threats and harassment following his ruling on the Kurundimalai temple, had led to concerns about the independence of the judiciary. He said that the Mullaitivu Magistrate had been pressured to change his judgment.

Justice Minister,Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Sri Lankan judges had power to issue summons and take appropriate action against individuals who attempted to exert influence over them. He asked why the judge concerned had not used his powers.

Minister Rajapakshe said that the Opposition could file a contempt of court case if anyone had pressured the Mullaitivu Magistrate to reverse his judgment as claimed, without levelling allegations against the government.

The Minister said the government had no powers to investigate the matter involving the Magistrate and that the JSC was the relevant body to handle the matter and requested if anyone had any issue, they could complain to the Judicial Service Commission.

TNA MP Sumanthiran said that the whole world knew that there was pressure on the Judge. “The Minister cannot claim that there was no pressure on the judge.”

Minister Rajapakshe said that if there was anyone in the House who had exerted pressure on the judiciary it was MP Sumanthiran. He said MP Sumanthiran had on 20 October, 2022 told Parliament that the judges of the Supreme Court should be sent home. “You said in this House that people had no faith in the Supreme Court.”

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