Dec 14, 2017

Govt. suspects baby elephants captured to sell overseas Featured

The government says it has strong suspicions that baby elephants caught illegally in Sri Lanka are being sold to the rich in countries including the Middle East.

Also, wildlife minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera says he believes those keeping elephants illegally are behind the killing of several tuskers in the past few weeks in Kurunegala.

Speaking to BBC Sinhala Service, he said the CID was investigating to find out if this was a conspiracy as it had not reached proportions of this magnitude previously.

Those who keep elephants illegally try to give the impression that elephants being killed in the wild could live safely once domesticated, according to him.

Thalatha’s promise

Questioned over the slow pace of the investigations, Perera said justice minister Thalatha Athukorale had promised to speed up the investigations and the court action.

The minister went onto say that his ministry was given a big burden of keeping custody of 42 elephants until the related court cases were over.

According to him, there is unconfirmed information that even during the previous regime, baby elephants were captured and sent by boat from Hambantota and Beruwala to countries including the Middle East for prices of around 500,000 dollars.

He said his suspicions have been confirmed by law and order minister Sagala Ratnayake.

Many calves were found at Udawalawa, Gonagalara in Hambantota, Ambegamuwa and Kataragama, he noted.

Interpol will be informed, once the local investigations are over, he said.

Referring to the killing of ‘Dala Poottuwa’, he said the CID was investigating it and more arrests were likely, irrespective of whether the suspects were politicians or clergy.

He declined to comment on media reports that a Buddhist monk wanted in the investigations has gone into hiding.