Renewed calls for GPS tracking collars for endangered tuskers | Daily News

Renewed calls for GPS tracking collars for endangered tuskers

Environmentalists have renewed their call for GPS tracking collars to protect the endangered elephant population in the country with the wild the number of jumbo deaths on the rise.

The latest call comes in the wake of Deega Danthu, the famous tusker being injured and found lying by the bank of Kala Wewa after several days.

Highlighting the importance for a proper monitoring system to protect these tuskers, environmentalist Supun Jayaweera says the Department of Wildlife, which is the legally authorised guardian of these animals, should take necessary steps to introduce GPS tracking collars to these animals.

The Tusker of Kala Wewa, a rarest of the 1% tusker community in Sri Lanka injured due to human activity was found yesterday (08) near Kala Wewa.

The Department of Wildlife is providing the tusker with the necessary medical treatment and Jayaweera said hopefully,the tusker will survive his injuries.

According to Jayaweera, the tusker is suffering from an injury sustained by a gun shot to one of its front legs, above the ankle.

“The injury seems to have been caused by a trap gun,” he said.

“There is no life threatening situation for Deega Danthu at present. Even though the injury seem less serious, when tuskers like these fall it is not easy to get them back on their feet. Deega Danthu is unable to carry his weight with the injured leg at the moment,” Jayaweera explained.

As Deega Danthu lie fighting for life, Jayaweera points out that lack of proper monitoring of these tuskers has put their lives at stake. He observes that Mahasen, an equally rare tusker who roams the banks of the Minneriya reservoir and the sacred grounds of Somawathiya has suffered from numerous gunshot injuries. “The continuation of the line of tuskers in Sri Lanka depends on these tuskers.Therefore,their security is something that should be taken very seriously,” Jayaweera said.

“Deega Danthu was found after several days after it was initially injured. Unless someone reports that a tusker is injured or if the Wildlife officers look for a tusker noticing its absence, there is no method to find out if a tusker is in danger or not,” Jayaweera further said.

Jayaweera also said the umbrella protection provided to national parks is insufficient forthese tuskers who have a behavior pattern of migrating from one wilderness to another continuously.

Environmentalist Shashikalana Ratwatte speaking to the Daily News says wildlife conservation policies regarding these tuskers and wildlife at large must undergo drastic changes.

Ratwatte described the present wildlife conservation policy adopted by the Wildlife Department to be “out dated” and emphasised the importance of upgrading it up to that of international standards like in African countries.

“These countries use sophisticated high tech programmes to protect tuskers and other endangered animals. These programmes consist of extensive procedures from locating a wounded animal to relocating it after treatment. Sri Lanka too should adopt an similar methods,” Ratwatte explained.

Ratwatte also points out that the unavailability of correct data on tuskers and elephants in Sri Lanka is yet another serious limitation.

“According to the data collected by the last official survey conducted in 2012, there were 6,000 elephants in Sri Lanka. I personally do not agree with this data. There is only a 14% forest area of Sri Lanka’s land area. It is impossible for 6,000 elephants to live in such a area,” Ratwatte said.

Ratwatte also said according to authorities, there are 240 tuskers in Sri Lanka whereas according to their sources, there are only 120 tuskers roaming the wilderness of Sri Lanka.

Ratwatte further said measures should be taken to connect all national parks creating a safe route for migrating tuskers and stop human activities near traditional ‘Alimankada’.

He also highlighted the importance of ensuring environment eutrophication in forests in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Sustainability and Wildlife Ministry Secretary R.M.D.B. Meegasmulla says the Department of Wildlife has already begun to reintroduce GPS tracking collars for tuskers. He said that such tracking collars were used sometimes back by the Wildlife Department. “There were some allegations that a tusker died due to a tracking collar which temporarily halted its use,” Meegasmulla explained.

Meegasmulla further said they are also to establish an elephant holding ground in Lunugamwehera, one similar to that in Horowpatana. He also said the Wildlife Department is all set to conduct a survey of elephants on coming September, 2017. 


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