Concern mounts over wildlife officer’s ‘lack of evidence’ observation in elephant calf case

Concern mounts over wildlife officer’s ‘lack of evidence’ observation in elephant calf case

Written by Bella Dalima

21 Aug, 2014 | 9:32 pm

During the appointment of the new cabinet in April 2010, several government leaders noted that portfolios had been allocated as per a scientific process. However, when considering the functioning of certain ministries, the scientific process that was touted is not to be seen.

A recent incident shows that there was some sort of scientific process followed in the subsequent cabinet reshuffle.The incident in question was the ability of the Minister of Wildlife Conservation, to identify animals in an instant.

The Minister’s ability is to be appreciated when considering the portfolio that has been allocated to him.

While the Minister is such a success, it would indeed be a problem if the officials at the Department of Wildlife, the only department under the purview of his ministry, are unable to display talent that is beyond the Minister’s own talents.

It was proven at the Embilipitiya Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, that the officials of the Department of Wildlife or not even on the same level as the Minister.

This failure was proven when the Department submitted its report today on the investigation into an incident where a group of persons had allegedly entered the Udawalawa National Park from the Gal Paya area, and had attempted to capture an elephant calf on May 1.

The wildlife officers had initiated a sting operation with the assistance of the police, after receiving a tip-off regarding the attempt to capture an elephant calf.

Although they were unable to nab the brains behind the operation, Wildlife officers seized a tractor and arrested the driver of the tractor, noting that it was being used in an attempt to capture an elephant calf.

While wildlife officers noted that a group of persons accosted them at this point and took steps to release the driver of the tractor, it was the wildlife officials themselves who also noted that this elephant calf that was discovered in the vicinity, had been given a tranquiliser.

The Wildlife Department submitted the tractor to the Embilipitiya Magistrate’s Court as an evidence item.

The report on the investigation into the incident, which was compiled by an Assistant Director at the Department’s Head Office, was submitted to court today by the Director in charge of the southern zone.

Submitting the report to court today, the Southern Zone director noted that the Department has no intention of pursuing this case. This official further noted that such a decision had been taken owing to the lack of evidence.

Given that a tractor for which an owner can be traced has been submitted to court as a case item, it is evident that the Assistant Director who compiled the investigation report, has not conducted a comprehensive investigation.

Under a Department which comprises of such officials, will action be taken in the cases of the illegal capture of elephants or other fauna, only when the animals themselves are able to give evidence?









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