SF’s jumbo op has irked UNESCO, say environmentalists
Posted on June 19th, 2018

Courtesy The Island

Wildlife Minister Sarath Fonseka’s efforts to translocate the remaining two elephants in Sinharaja had caused concern to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), environmentalists alleged yesterday.

“The UNESCO wrote to the Sri Lankan Ambassador to France, raising concerns about proposed translocation of the last two wild elephants in the Sinharaja forest reserve. In response the Minister has said, ‘If UNESCO promises to solve the issue and ensures that not a single elephant or human will die in the area, I accept that the two elephants are part of heritage.’


Ven. Pahiyangala Anandasagara Thera, Chairman of Surakimu Sri Lanka (Let’s Protect Sri Lanka) has in a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, said Fonseka does not care that such responses tarnished the image of the country.

The Thera has said that instead of trying to address the issue in an ad hoc manner, the authorities should focus on preparing a management plan to ensure the safety of the elephants as well as the people of the area. He has also requested the President to appoint a committee comprising relevant officials, technical experts, environmentalists and representatives of the community based organizations in the area, to study the issue.

“Another simple thing to do is place collars on the elephants to track their movements so as to prevent them from straying into villages,: the Thera has said.

Environmentalist, Sajeewa Chamikara said. “In the past several decades a number of unauthorised settlements and farm lands had been established near the Sinharaja Forest. Local politicians and their henchmen are running a number of illegal operations in and around the forest including illicit brewing, illegal gem mining, illicit felling and harvesting wallapatta. These groups were behind the moves to translocate two elephants from the forest.”

“Most residents don’t want the trans-location of the two elephants. These two elephants are the biggest problem these racketeers are faced with because they cause problems to their illegal operations. We thank the President for stopping the attempt to translocate the two elephants.”

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