Photo focus: Our vanishing wildlife (Sri Lanka)


Jayaratna Wickramarachchi and Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi, The Sunday Times,

Date Published


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Wildlife authorities were able to save the she elephant but her calf died. Villagers said the she elephant attempted to bury her calf before she left.

The burning of forest reserves, the prevailing drought and clearing of land for development projects have all contributed to the diminishing space for the denizens of the wild. It has also contributed to animals being cut off from sources of their food.

As a result these animals have been forced to move into areas inhabited by humans with deadly consequences to the animals.

Last week several animals died as a result of human action. The past few weeks has been especially bad for the leopard population, with several of them being killed by humans. The most recent example was the killing of a leopard at Agrapathana last week, believed to have been poisoned.

Poaching inside forest reserves too continues unabated. At Kaluwaragaswewa, police recovered the carcass of a deer, killed inside the forest reserve.

The majestic elephant has been a major casualty of the diminishing animal habitat. An example of how unplanned development affects the elephant population was captured on camera at Hambantota, when herds of elephants cross the road. Such occurrences can be deadly for both elephants and humans, especially at night due to the possibility of collision between vehicles and elephants.

Another tragedy was reported from Kilinochchi, where an elephant and her calf fell into an   abandoned well. Area residents notified local wildlife officials of the incident. Unfortunately by the time officers arrived, the calf had died.

According to wildlife officials, the elephant had tried to bury her calf in the mud before she left.

Amidst the sad stories of wild life death, a ray of hope was the rescue by the Anamaduwa police of 25 star tortoise which were being  transported to Beruwala