Written by Bella Dalima
02 May, 2014 | 9:33 pm
A group of persons attempted to abduct Newsfirst’s provincial correspondent in Godakawela, Mahinda Pushpakumara on Thursday night, as he attempted to report on the snatching of an elephant calf from the Udawalawe National Park.
While our correspondent was rescued owing to the intervention of residents and wildlife officers, the cassette containing footage of the incident was stolen.
Our correspondent who was injured during the altercation is being treated at the Godakawela Hospital.While a complaint has been lodged with the Godakawela Police, News1st lodged a written complaint with the Inspector General of Police on Friday.
Wildlife Officers had received a tip-off at about 7 o’clock on Thursday night that a group of people who had entered the Galpaya area in the Udawalawe National Park were attempting to steal a wild elephant calf.
Wildlife Officers had gone to the area with the consent of senior officials at the Department.
Wildlife officers had also obtained the assistance of the police for this operation.
The officers who were keeping watch on the road, accosted a suspicious tractor and cab in the Gallena area in Udawalawa. Wildlife officers had seized the tractor and arrested the driver.
Wildlife officers say that the people travelling in the cab had threatened the officers and had then taken away the driver of the tractor.
The group had then assaulted News1st’s Provincial Correspondent in Godakawela, Mahinda Pushpakumara, who was recording the incident with his camera.
Mahinda Pushpakumara who was injured in the attack has been admitted to the Godakawela Hospital. The tractor and equipment seized by wildlife officials are due to be produced in court.
Wildlife officers and environmentalists have been conducting a search operation in the Udawalawe National Park since Friday morning, in search of the calf that was to be captured. The operation ended successfully this evening when the search party discovered the calf in the Weliyara area in Galpaya, not far from the National Park.
Wildlife officers say that the group had attempted to harass and capture the four-year-old calf.Wildlife officers suspect that the group may have attempted to kill the mother and make off with the calf. They added that steps have been taken to entrust the calf to the Eth Athura Sevana sanctuary in Udawalawe.
Meanwhile, lawyers say that the police let go of two opportunities to apprehend suspects without producing a warrant.
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