- 17 kg. of leopard flesh found
- Killing a leopard is a non-bailable offence
- 10 leopards killed this year
- Minister assures to amend FFPO
By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
The Ududumbara Police have arrested three persons who were transporting a head and different body parts of a leopard for sale. The body parts were being transported in a three-wheeler and the persons were arrested in Kalalgamuwa. Around 17 kilogrammes of leopard flesh along with the leopard’s head and skin were found in their possession. The suspects were later produced at the Teldeniya Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
According to senior environmental lawyer Jagath Gunawardena, the leopard is a strictly protected species according to Section 31, sub-section 2 (Schedule II) of the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance (FFPO). “Therefore, it is a cognisable offence and the perpetrators can be arrested without a warrant. It is also a non-bailable offence.”
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Wildlife and Forest Conservation Minister C. B Ratnayake said that irrespective of social status these perpetrators will receive maximum punishment. “The leopard is a protected species and I have given directions for the relevant authorities to impose maximum punishment on those who are guilty of laying snares. Further, nobody can keep body parts of a protected species in their possession.”
He further said that measures will be taken to amend the FFPO and that search operations are underway to identify the person who shot the leopard in Nallathanniya on Tuesday.
This year, 10 leopards have been killed as a result of snaring and illegal human practices. It is alleged that leopard meat is a delicacy for the Chinese people and residents in the Central Highlands lay snares to deliberately trap leopards and earn an extra income. The growing threats faced by these iconic animals have resulted in their conservation status declining from Near Threatened to Vulnerable in the June 2016 update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- It is alleged that leopard meat is a delicacy for the Chinese people and residents in the Central Highlands lay snares to trap leopards