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News


Protest halts auction of rogue elephants

By Vindya Amaranayake
The Wildlife Conservation Department has temporarily halted plans to capture and auction two rogue elephants in the Galgamuwa-Maho area, upon protests by the environmental activists, The Nation learns.
The department was planning to anaesthetise and capture the two elephants, and auction them on the site on November 9 and 10, and sell them to the highest bidders.
The initial advertisement to call for bidders was published in a weekend newspaper dated July 30, 2006. with the reasons for capture and required criteria for bidding.
In a letter signed by Wildlife Director General Dayanada Kariyawasam and Deputy Director M. E. Wilson had informed the selected bidders the planned date of auction.
However, this plan was faced with strong opposition from wildlife enthusiasts. Environment lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said that to capture and auction a wild elephant is a clear violation of the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance.
“This auction is illegal. Although it is not stated in the Act, there are provisions to the effect that this is illegal,” Gunawardena said.
He added that this auction is only sequel to the Elephant Policy presented by the Wildlife Department in August.
“Although the advertisement says two elephants, we received news that they are planning to auction 15 elephants; seven in North-West and eight in South,” he said.
Gunawardena added that about 110 bidders have requested to participate in the auction and 75 have been found eligible by the department.
Although the department had halted the auction, the environmental activists believe this is only a temporary hiccup in their plans to sell the elephants.
Wildlife Department officials were not available for comments.