By Nirmala Kannangara
Rampant poaching is reported to be taking place within the Udawalawe and Lunugamwehera National Parks as the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the respective police stations are helpless to take action against the poachers. Although poaching is reported from each and every national park, sanctuary and strict nature reserves in the country, the situation at Udawalawe and Lunugamwehera has become worse and no action has been taken against the offenders because of political clout.
Environmentalists and naturalists accuse the respective police for their failure to take any action against poaching and selling bush-meat (meat from animals poached in the wild) as they are getting their ‘share’ every evening, reliable sources at the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) said on condition of anonymity. They claim their (DWC) hands are tied because of the political interference, although the department is keen to bring the poachers to book.
“We are helpless as we cannot discharge our duties as it should be, because of the political interference. We cannot pass the blame to the police either, because we know they are scared to carry out their duties as they too are under pressure. Minister of Coconut Development and Janatha Estate Development Jagath Pushpakumara, and the respective local council members, put undue pressure not only on our staff at the Udawalawe and Lunugamwehera national parks but also those in the head office who carry out raids,” said the sources.
Minister refutes allegations
However, Minister Jagath Pushpakumara refuted allegations leveled against him and queried as to why the DWC has failed to lodge complaints against him to the police if he has given instructions to them not to take action against the poachers.
“Since I am not involved in any of these illegal activities, anyone can level baseless allegations against me. I request the DWC to lodge complaints to the police if I have ever pressurized them not to take any action against the poachers at Lunugamwehera and Udawalawe national parks. More....