New report on mysterious elephant deaths in 2019
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Yesterday (20), Attorney General (AG) Sanjay Rajaratnam pledged to submit a report, within two weeks, regarding the incident in which seven elephants were found dead in Habarana reserves, Digampathana, Hiriwadunna and Thumbikulama in September 2019.
A lawsuit filed in connection with the incident by the Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ) was considered in the Court of Appeal yesterday and Senior Supplementary Attorney General (SASG) Parinda Ranasinghe, appearing for the GA, has advised that a report in this regard would be submitted within two weeks.
When contacted by The morning, CEJ Executive Director Hemantha Withanage said she has filed a petition seeking a mandamus warrant order for the relevant authorities to formulate a national policy for the protection of elephants. He also said that through the petition, it is requested that said national policy include measures to be taken to minimize elephant attacks on humans and property.
According to Withanage, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Wildlife and Forestry Conservation, the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) and the GA were named respondents in the petition.
On September 27, 2019, four elephants were found dead in the forest reserve near Digampathana, and a day later, on September 28, 2019, three more carcasses were found within a four-kilometer radius of the original location where the four elephants were found dead.
A team including DWC officers, veterinarians and army personnel were deployed to conduct initial investigations in the area and DWC officials suspected the elephants may have died of poisoning. DWC officials also confirmed that all elephants that died were females and were either pregnant or mothers of young calves.
Withanage further stated that they were seeking an order directing the defendants to act collectively so that a program is put in place to ensure the protection of all elephants under and according to the articles of the Protection of Elephants Order. flora and fauna as well as the Forest Ordinance.