Animal cruelty, be it torture, slaughter or even caging for that matter has become a growing concern from around the world. At a time when animal rights activists have started voicing their concerns about allowing animals to coexist with humans, it wasn’t before long that social media revealed footage of a group of people staring at a tortured sea-eagle. This was followed by a man holding a dead peacock with an air rifle in his hand whose wife was giving out numerous excuses to prove that the husband wasn’t guilty. Several months afterwards, quite shockingly, social media again succeeded in ‘naming and shaming’ a group of people who have been killing and torturing rare and endemic species of animals in the wild, for meat and for sheer thrill. In order to shed light on this latest incident, the Daily Mirror spoke to a few interested parties who voiced out their concerns.
These suspects can be arrested without a warrant : Jagath Gunawardena
Environmental lawyer and Attorney-at-law Jagath Gunawardena said that whatever the suspects have been doing were offences under the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance. “For example, the barking deer is a strictly protected mammal and just for killing one of them, these suspects can be arrested. The other mammals are categorized as protected mammals but since they are offences, they can be arrested without a warrant. Another thing is the fact that these people have been using air rifles and spearguns which are not being mentioned in the Firearm Ordinance. Even the use of projectiles has not been specified. Therefore it has become easy for people like these suspects to kill animals in the wild without any objections. I suggest that it’s high time that the Firearm Ordinance is duly amended to include these weapons and ensure that all life is ultimately being protected. I also believe that many sophisticated people kill animals and engage in this kind of behaviour for their own entertainment and thrill.”
He further stated that there are limitations to killing animals such as wild boars and porcupines. “Although they are listed as non-protected mammals there are limitations to kill them. They can only be killed within a person’s personal property.
They cannot be killed during the night time, in a forest, near a waterfall etc. Also there are 8 non-protected mammals, 5 non-protected reptiles and 5 birds. But in whatever the case their flesh cannot be traded.
"The barking deer is a strictly protected mammal and just for killing one of them, these suspects can be arrested"
Excellent way of highlighting animal cruelty : Iromi Salgado
Speaking to the , Committee member of the Animal Welfare and Protection Association (AWPA) Iromi Salgado said that it was an excellent way of highlighting the cruelty that people wouldn’t otherwise have known. “If social media could be used this way it can really open the eyes of the public. Many people wouldn’t have known that these kinds of incidents actually take place. Although this incident had taken place several years back, I am happy that the authorities were able to get hold of the culprits. Animals are a part of our nature and we humans should start to coexist with them.”
"If social media could be used this way it can really open the eyes of the public"
Many people use air rifles to protect their cultivations : N. G Panditharathna
In his comments to the , N. G Panditharathna, Additional secretary, Civil Security and Development division at the Ministry of Defence said that people are allowed to import air rifles. “It is not a fire arm under the act and therefore many people use it in their cultivations. These were issued for coconut planters to use in their cultivations to protect them from animals such as monkeys. Once a dealer is registered under the agriculture department or the Coconut cultivation board, he can import these air rifles and distribute among their farmers. Humans cannot be killed unless shot from a close proximity. Usually animals are aimed at within a distance of 50m and this distance has little effect on killing the target.”
"These were issued for coconut planters to use in their cultivations to protect them from animals such as monkeys"
Anybody can possess air rifles without permits : Gamini Jayawickrama Perera
Speaking to the , Minister of Wildlife and Sustainable Development, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said that all suspects have been arrested and are being questioned. “No permits are needed to possess air rifles in Sri Lanka and this is starting to become a menace now. Anybody can get a stock of air rifles and even start shooting people. Why they use air rifles is due to the fact that it doesn’t produce any sound when killing a target. These people have killed rare species of animals as seen from the photos. We have to start respecting wildlife and treasure our flora and fauna.”
"No permits are needed to possess air rifles in Sri Lanka and this is starting to become a menace now"
The use of these weapons should be banned : Sagarika Rajakarunanayake
In her comments director of Sathva Mithra group and animal rights activist Sagarika Rajakarunanayake said that it was high time that these weapons were banned from use. “We need to find out who are purchasing these weapons and also who are selling them. It has been a horrible sight to see animals being tortured before they are being killed. The entire line of activity has to be traced because this is not the first time that such an incident took place.”
"We need to find out who are purchasing these weapons and also who are selling them"
Statement by Police Media Unit
According to a statement released by the Police Media Unit it mentioned that these suspects were residents of Panwila, Kandy and this incident had occured five years ago at St. John’s Estate in Madulkelle.
Six suspects in connection to the incident were arrested on Saturday and Sunday. Two air rifles, pellets and a gun have been taken into custody. The suspects were between ages 22 and 42 and they were produced at the Teldeniya Magistrate’s Court on Sunday for further investigations.
ExposÉ by a wildlife expert
A wildlife expert who wished to remain anonymous told the Daily Mirror that air rifles were issued a few years back to coconut planters to protect their cultivations. The air rifles were used to chase away monkeys and many of them had been distributed at the time. “However the method of killing is immaterial because animals such as the barking deer are endemic species and are strictly protected under the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance. These air rifles have now become more powerful because the barking deer is the size of a dog.”
In order to clarify this information the Daily Mirror tried to contact the Minister of Plantation Industries, Navin Dissanayake but learned that he was currently overseas and several attempts to contact Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries, Wasantha Lakshman Perera failed.