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7 wild elephants poisoned to death: Wildlife Dept.

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 10 October 2019 02:38

  • Profile of toxic chemicals still unclear
  • Government Analyst’s report to soon be released


By Charumini de Silva

The three-member committee appointed by the Department of Wildlife and Conservation yesterday confirmed that the mysterious death of seven elephants was due to poisoning, with the types of toxic chemicals used still unclear.

“The final report submitted by the Expert Committee appointed by the department found that the death of the seven elephants was due to poisoning, but we still haven’t gotten any verification on the chemicals,” Department of Wildlife Conservation Director General Chandana Sooriyabandara told the Daily FT.

Six cows and a male elephant were found dead in the Thumbikulam reserve in Habarana in late September.

Sooriyabandara said they were now waiting for the Government Analyst’s report to be submitted to the court to verify the exact type of poison that led to the death of the seven elephants.

“The samples collected from the autopsies of the elephants are now being investigated by the Government Analyst by Court order. We will only be able to get further details on the report after they submit their analytical report to Court,” he added.

Autopsies of the elephants were also directed to the Veterinary Research Institute and Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Peradeniya for further investigations to be carried out and those final reports were expected to arrive soon.

However, the Director General was unable to provide a timeline for the Government Analyst’s report to be released.

The Wildlife Ministry also appointed a six-member Expert Committee on 1 October to probe the sudden death of seven elephants. The committee is headed by former Deputy Director General of Animal Production and Health Prof. S.E. Ranawana, while the members include Dr. L.H. Dhammi (expert in forensic toxicology), Dr. D.L. Waidyaratne (expert in forensic pathology), Manori Gunawardhana (expert in elephant ecology), Dr. E.W.Y. Lakshani (expert in agrochemicals) and Dr. Ganga Wijesinghe (expert in veterinary science and pathology). The department has identified 16 elephant corridors in wildlife reserves where the majority of land has been invaded by unauthorised farmers. Authorities admitted development projects and unauthorised cultivations in the wildlife reserves had been a major cause for the rise in human-elephant conflict.

According to official data, 293 elephants were killed during the first nine months of this year, while 93 people were killed by wild elephants straying into villages near wildlife sanctuaries. Last year, 319 elephants were murdered, while 96 people were killed by elephants.


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