Some gangsters who had allegedly attempted to remove an elephant calf from the Udawalawe National Park on Thursday and transport it by a tractor were intercepted by the wildlife officers and the residents.
When their motives came to light they had fled leaving the calf behind.
Residents in the area believe that his high handed act of piracy was attempted with state patronage.
When the suspects were fleeing the area, Mahinda Therasinghe a journalist who was filming the incident escaped being abducted by the suspects when the onlookers intervened. His camera which was taken away was later found without the film. Mr. Therasinghe is a provincial correspondent of Sirasa TV and the Mawbima Newspaper.
Recalling what happened he said he received a tip off on May Day that an attempt was being made to kidnap an elephant calf from the Udawalawe National Park through the Galpaya Exit on a tractor followed by some luxury vehicles. He had hurried with his camera hoping to capture the news for his news media.
“I captured on film the number of luxury vehicles leaving the park when someone in one of the vehicles had grabbed me and pulled me into their vehicle. The police who were alerted gave chase brought back my camera, but I noticed the cassette missing. I believe that someone in the vehicle would have removed it,” the journalist said
The villagers said among the vehicles were a lorry which transports elephants and two vehicles which could travel on difficult terrain.
The villagers lamented the fact that the gangsters had got away and believed that a relative of a ruling party politician was behind the blatant act of robbery with the support of the police.
When asked the police the matter would be investigated. (Ajithlal Shantha Udaya and Lasantha Niroshan)