Animals

A recap of Sri Lanka’s wildlife issues and a look into their future 

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At first glance, Sri Lanka looks like the Garden of Eden. The country glows positively in green and is filled with the noise of endless chirping, chirping, buzzing, snarling, and beastling. Add to that the huge variety of landscapes and climatic zones and you get a natural wonderland. But it is a wonderland under serious threat thanks to a combination of deforestation, rapid development, pollution, and human-wildlife conflict.

When it comes to animals, it is not just elephants in Sri Lanka; The island has a huge variety of animals for such a small space. And where the famous “Big Five” are found in Africa (lion, tiger, elephant, rhinoceros, and cape buffalo), Sri Lanka has the “Big Four” plus one (tiger, elephant, sloth bear, and wild Asian water buffalo, plus the whale has been found blue giant abroad).

endangered species

This year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists more than 60 species in Sri Lanka as endangered or critically endangered. They include the Asian elephant, the purple-faced langur, the red skinny loris, and the macaque. All five species of sea turtles in Sri Lanka are threatened, as are the estuarine crocodile and the dugong, and all are killed for their meat. Several types of birds, fish and insects are also threatened.

A recent conservation assessment of freshwater fish in Sri Lanka found 139 species, of which 61 are found nowhere else on Earth. The new assessment shows that 74% of endemic freshwater fish are threatened with extinction: 12 are critically endangered, 24 are critically endangered, and nine are endangered.

In a conversation with Sajeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land Reform and Agriculture (MONLAR), he explained that Sri Lanka’s freshwater fish species are currently at risk of extinction due to the use of agrochemicals, habitat destruction, and the export of freshwater fish found in a natural environment.

He went on to note that habitat destruction is one of the main reasons freshwater fish species are facing this situation, in different ways. Among these, small hydropower projects have been identified as a major factor in the destruction of freshwater fish habitats in the wet and intermediate zone, so far. Small hydroelectric power stations completely destroy freshwater fish habitats by draining large areas of streams. Small hydropower projects have caused some streams to completely dry up within an area ranging from one kilometer to about five kilometres.

The only way to solve this problem is to conduct at least population assessments of the endangered species. A recent assessment process revealed that some nationally threatened species with a wide distribution range cannot be included under any of the IUCN threat categories.

It is proposed to develop conservation action plans for threatened fish species found only in Sri Lanka and to assess the feasibility of ex situ conservation, where the breeding of endangered species occurs.

Addressing the elephant in the room

The Extraordinary Gazette, issued on August 19, 2021, which effectively legalized the commercial use of elephants, private ownership of elephants, low standards of welfare, and most importantly allowing registration of elephants poached illegally from the wild, was the talk of the town among activists and the general public alike. This year.

Recently, the fate of 38 baby elephants, along with the concept of elephant smuggling, and the care of captive elephants, was laid by the Court of Appeal, which considered public litigation against the newspaper in question, in the presence of an animal. Lovers, environmentalists, and activists. This landmark decision could affect not only the country’s wildlife, but also illustrate how the rule of law can stand up to power and corruption.

The founder of the Rally for Animal Rights (RARE), Panchali Panapitiya, explained the effects of the decision on two levels, noting that the elephants referred to in this court order are now facing the most tragic lives at the behest of man. “The arduous training or taming to which they will undergo is unimaginably cruel; thereafter, elephants will spend their lives deprived of nearly all normal behavior and instead face death in the shackles of slavery. What the future holds for these elephants is not really life, but mere Presence “.

It seems that our wildlife will continue to be threatened, all because of human negligence, and one can only hope that we will soon have a note that everything that makes Sri Lanka will disappear if we do not put our work together soon.

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