Environmental Activist Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero says it is a ridiculous decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to provide AK-47 automatic rifles to Civil Defence Forces to chase away Wild Elephants invading the villages.
Speaking to media at a protest held this morning (14 Jan) in front of the Wild Life Department in Battaramulla against the distribution of firearms, the thero said despite many studies done and recommendations made by specialists on the Elephant-Human conflict, the present government has simply decided to give guns to kill elephants who crosses the fences.
The protest was organised by Protect Sri Lanka National Campaign against the distribution of guns to Civil Defence Forces under the auspices of Minister of Environment and Wild Life Resources S.M. Chandrasena at Thambuththegama last week (11 Jan).
Also, the Thero said that democracy in the country does not only apply to humans but also to the animals and plants and questioned whether the government was showing humanity, kindness and compassion towards the animals.
Further, he said that no one can file a court case against the decision as there is no cabinet paper or even a cabinet recommendation about the decision as it was merely an oral decision taken by the ministers.
Pahiyangala Thero added that this decision would also create another problem as the personnel in the Civil Defence Forces go hunting wild animals with these guns which will create food scarcity among the carnivores including Leopards. This he warned will eventually result in predators entering villages in search of prey.
At a time where Sri Lanka is ranked among the best travel destinations in Asia as well as in the world, it is not fair to the authorities to decide on killing the animals who bring money to the country,
“As many tourists visit Sri Lanka to see the elephants and other animals in national parks and it is through that money the ministers, officials and departments are maintained” he added.
The thero said the Director-General of Wildlife did not give a proper answer and when contacted the subject minister S.M. Chandrasiri it was clear that he wanted to gather his votes through this decision.