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More teeth for animal protection legislation

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By Shanika Sriyananda

While seeking legal advice to control the use of air guns which are used in sports, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife is to amend the existing Fauna and Flora Protection Act, which is outdated, to give more powers to deal with those slaughtering wild animals.

With the recent incident which went on viral on social media, of a number of youth killing wild animals mercilessly in the  forest, the Ministry has decided to impose stringent laws against those torturing, harassing and killing animals found in the wild.

The six suspects who have been arrested had killed several wild animals in the Knuckles Forest. The combined investigations by the Police and Wildlife Department have found that the six suspects are from wealthy families. They have been accused of torturing and killing deer and porcupines which are listed in the endangered species of the country.

The main suspect was arrested in Panwilla and two were arrested at St. John’s Estate in Madolkele and the other suspects have also been arrested by the police yesterday. The Police have also taken three firearms belonging to the suspects. “ We have taken action to give the maximum punishment to the six animal killers. But, in future we will increase the punishment by amending the existing wildlife protection laws to give these killers severe punishment, “ Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera told the Daily FT.

He said that he had directed the Police and the officials of the Department of Wildlife Conservation to arrest the six culprits including the owner of the 400-acre tea plantation, who has also taken part in the inhumane killing of wild animals. “They had been slaughtering wild animals for the last two-years. They had derived fun from harming and killing innocent animals. This is the second incident of slaughtering animals highlighted in social media. We need to introduce tough legal action against them before this becomes a habit among youth,” he stressed.

“I have instructed the legal unit of the Ministry to draft the amendments within a few months. Not only torturing animals, neglect of domesticated animals will also be looked into under the new amendments,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Minister Perera has also instructed the legal unit of the Ministry to prepare a paper to request the government to control the sale and use of all sports guns including the air guns soon.

“These weapons including air guns are freely available and even a school child can buy them now. These are high powered guns, which even can kill a person. There is a trend of using these guns now in Sri Lanka and it poses a security threat,” he said.

The Minister said that the government should bring laws to take all such weapons in use into custody and control imports and confiscate the existing such sports weapons belonging to persons who were not using them for sports.

“If they are used in sports, there should be laws to identify to whom these guns should be sold,” he said.

The suspects are to be remanded till 7 July.


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