PM orders crackdown on poaching, wildlife deaths

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday ordered the Wildlife Department to conduct an immediate probe into incidents of illegal poaching, after several leopards were killed in snares.

The Premier has directed Wildlife Director General M.G.C Sooriyabandara to conduct a prompt investigation into illegal poaching activities and to initiate legal action against the culprits.

His directive comes in the wake of yet another incident where a female leopard was killed after being caught in a snare. Leopard deaths were reported from Pussellawa, Nallathanniya in Hatton, Neluwa, Kilinochchi, and the Udawalawe National Park over the past few months. Among these leopards was a rare black leopard. The PM had informed the Wildlife DG that it was the responsibility of the Government to protect these endangered species.

The PM’s media division said that the Premier directed attention to the matter after another leopard died due to injuries from being trapped in a hunter’s snare on Monday. The Premier has issued a directive to the Wildlife DG to educate plantation communities to ensure that such incidents are prevented in future and steps taken to protect the country’s wildlife.

Meanwhile, in a bid to educate the public on the importance of protecting leopards, the Wildlife Dept has opened the world’s first Leopard Information Centre at the country’s most famous wildlife park, the Yala National Park.

According to a statement from the Wildlife Ministry, the Leopard Information Centre will provide the Department of Wildlife Conservation staff, Yala safari jeep drivers, visitors to the park and researchers with ample knowledge about leopards and in particular, the Sri Lankan leopard called Panthera pardus kotiya which can be spotted at the Yala National Park.

The centre also has a state of the art information touch panel which gives comprehensive information of over 100 identified leopards of the Yala National Park, such as photos, family trees where applicable, frequently seen areas and many more facts.

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