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Sri Lanka bans ‘drunk driving’ of elephants in new protection law

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by Amal Jayasinghe

Colombo (Sri Lanka – AFP) Sri Lanka will issue captive elephants with their own biometric identity cards and ban their keepers from drinking on the job under a wide-ranging new animal protection law.

Many rich Sri Lankans — including Buddhist monks — keep elephants as pets to show off their wealth, but complaints of ill treatment and cruelty are widespread.

The new measures are aimed at protecting the animals’ welfare and include strict regulations around working elephants, as well as mandating a daily two-and-a-half-hour bath for each creature.

Official records show there are about 200 domesticated elephants in this South Asian nation, with the population in the wild estimated at about 7,500.

The new law will require all owners to ensure that animals under their care have new photo identity cards with a DNA stamp.

It also brings in multiple regulations for working elephants.

Baby elephants can no longer be used for work — even cultural pageants — and cannot be separated from their mothers.

Logging elephants cannot be worked for more than four hours a day and night work is prohibited.

There are new restrictions on the tourism industry too — from now on, no more than four people can ride an elephant at once, and they must sit on a well-padded saddle.

Their use in films is banned, except for government productions under strict veterinary supervision, as is allowing their riders to drink while working.

“The person who owns or has the custody of such elephants shall ensure that the mahout (rider) is not consuming any liquor or any harmful drug while employed,” Wildlife Protection minister Wimalaweera Dissanayaka said in a recent gazette notification.

Owners must send their animals for a medical check-up every six months.

Those who violate the new law will have their elephant taken into state care and could face a three-year prison sentence.

Capturing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is a criminal offence punishable by death, but prosecutions are rare.

Animal rights activists as well as elephant experts have alleged that over the last 15 years, more than 40 baby elephants have been stolen from national wildlife parks.

 



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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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