Animal rights activists today accused the Wildlife Ministry Secretary and Wildlife Conservation Department Director General (WCD) of being directly involved in providing a legal standing to the baby elephants that are smuggled out of national parks and sold off for domestication.
Animal rights activist, Pubudu Weerarathne told a media briefing today that the latest evidence of their involvement in the racket surfaced through the responses submitted by the WCD to the Auditor General’s Department, for a probe that is being carried out on several selected baby elephants that the owners claim are domesticated.
Weerarathne quoting the WCD responses and the AG Department conclusion on the matter said the responses submitted by the WCD were a mockery that had attempted to portray the probe carried out by the Auditor General’s Department as a bogus and misleading one.
He pointed out that while ample evidence is available to prove the four elephants under investigation have in fact been smuggled and have not been birthed by any of the domestic female elephants, the WCD in its response has continued to maintain they are unable to make any determination due to lack of information.
“There are obvious irregularities in the documents that have been submitted to obtain licenses for these elephants; the gender of the animals has been visibly altered, the previous owners who have allegedly sold the animal has in real, been dead for over a year during the time the elephant was sold,” Weerarathne said.
He said the obvious gender alterations in the documents had been made as the originally smuggled animal who died due to malnutrition or neglect, has been replaced by another elephant that physically matched with the description entered in the applications for licenses.
He went on to state that although complaints regarding this racket had been lodged with several government departments including the Police department and the Bribery and Corruption Commission had not taken any action on the complaints as of yet.
Meanwhile, senior environmentalist and environmental lawyer Jagath Gunawardena who also spoke at the media briefing today said that it is unfortunate that the WCD and the Wildlife Ministry is reluctant to take action against the cases that have been probed by the Auditor General’s Department as even a superficial look into the documents makes it evident that they are forged.
“Therefore the individuals involved can not only be charged for forging documents but also for violating the Oaths and Affirmation Ordinance, as some of the submitted documents to obtain licenses include affidavits,” he said. (Lakna Paranamanna)