May 29, 2020

KILL, SNARE AND STILL NOT CARE?

KILL, SNARE AND STILL NOT CARE?

WNPS declares May 29th Sri Lanka Leopard day.

WNPS calls for change in attitude towards enforcement and the 29th of all May to be declared annual Sri Lanka Leopard day, in memory of the snared black leopard that died in captivity.

The WNPS has called the President of Sri Lanka H. E Gotabaya Rajapakse to join in the strongest condemnation of the manner in which this precious black leopard tragically lost his life.
Stringent action is called for from the GOSL in detecting, prosecuting and penalizing the users of illegal wire snares.

The WNPS calls for a set protocol to be followed in dealing with wildlife emergencies such as snared leopards, that need coordination, planning and rapid response.

The WNPS calls for urgent training and capacity building for wildlife Rangers and Vets to face field situations that arise.

The WNPS calls for the urgent setting up of a fully equipped Wildlife Rescue and Treatment Centre in the central highlands.

The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society demanded that the events that led to the untimely and tragic death of the only black leopard that has ever been encountered in close quarters in Sri Lanka, be taken very seriously and acted upon. These indirect killings MUST STOP, the perpetrators brought to justice, and CHANGE brought about to take STRONG preventive measures. The Society calls upon the Nation's President H.E. Gotabaya Rajapakse, to join in the strongest condemnation of this episode, and use "Conservation's Black Friday" to bring lasting but drastic changes. This is the TIME TO ACT- NOT MOURNā€¼

We understand that the leopard once snared had to be tranquilized to cut free of the snare and be tranquilized once freed to be under observation until veterinarians were satisfied that the animal was fit enough to go back to the wild. The pervasive, countrywide use of steel cables fashioned into wire snares is taking a deadly toll on this country’s wildlife. This illegal practice has been ignored for much too long. Wire snares kill indiscriminately, cause much suffering of victims, and cause lingering deaths. The WNPS strongly requests that the GOSL calls a Nationwide BAN on this practice and mobilizes all possible forces to remove existing traps in estates, jungles, and even in the parks. The immediate revision of the outdated laws and penalties MUST be done to bring about Mandatory Jail sentences for setting a snare, including personal property confiscation of those found guilty. The revision must also cover the Fauna and Flora Protection Act (FFPO), to include harsher punishment for poaching, wildlife trade, and so on. These Killers must be dealt with appropriately.

The society feels this episode could have been handled much better on many fronts. Our country values its wildlife, is proud of its leopard population, and earns valuable foreign exchange from wildlife tourism and needs to pay more attention to individual species conservation. Wildlife tourism that hinges on flagship species such as elephants, leopards, and blue whales has to sustain these species better. This beautiful and exceptional black leopard - (a rare phenomenon in the wild, arising from the chance combination of double recessive genes carried in a normally coloured leopard population) should have been cared for like a human VVIP. Animals such as this black leopard are the ‘rockstars’ of the animal world and they are spectacular, have a huge public appeal, and are the object of adoration, which often helps better conservation efforts. We strongly feel the approach taken, the attention paid and perhaps the care given to this leopard during its brief time in captivity, was not of the highest possible that the DWC could do, considering the high-quality skilled resources and people it has at its disposal for an incident of this nature. It was certainly not commensurate with the VIP status of the inmate and his inestimable value to the country. We would urge the DWC and the GOSL to adopt best practices used in other countries who have valuable wildlife resources and have developed successful systems to deal with similar wildlife emergencies with these species. We need greater professionalism, better equipment, greater local and international cooperation as well as to follow a set protocol to deal with these exigencies. The DWC also needs to improve its scientific knowledge base on the leopard, in order to better manage and conserve the species. These changes will achieve a greater measure of success than we are currently experiencing. The recent series of Leopard handling incidents in the hills and Wilpattu demonstrate the urgent need for Training and Capacity building for these highly committed wildlife rangers and vets. The urgent setting up of a fully equipped Wildlife Rescue and Treatment centre in the hills is a major requirement. Who in Government will provide this visionary leadership to the DWC is the big question?

The WNPS, as a long term stakeholder and pioneer in the conservation and welfare of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, would urge these actions and changes be effected promptly so that the common heritage of all Sri Lankans is safeguarded. The Society has decided to declare May 29th as annual Sri Lanka Leopard Day and invites all conservation groups and the government to endorse this notion formally and collectively. The society will continue every year to call upon Conservationist, activist, the Public, and the Government to continually do more to improve this situation and to celebrate one of our most iconic species. Perhaps then, this precious black leopard would not have died in vain.