SL to amend laws for harsher punishment for wildlife protection

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The government will consider strengthening laws to protect wildlife in the wake of last year’s and this month’s killing of several rare and protected animal species, a Wildlife Ministry official told media yesterday.

Commenting on the recent killing of a leopard in the Udawalawe National Park, he said four people had been arrested and with the assistance of the STF. The police investigation into the killing is continuing.

The official said several wild animals had been killed in recent years and raised suspicion if there was a poaching racket in operation and pointed out that the Justice Ministry’s advice would be sought to strengthen the laws to mete out stringent punishment to anyone caught killing wild animals or involved in the illegal poaching trade.

The Wildlife Ministry will also seek the assistance of the police and STF to strengthen security at national parks.

The carcass of a leopard which was found at the Udawalawe National Park on January 1 had its limbs severed and teeth missing.

Leopards are a protected species under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka.

Environmentalists say there could be less than 1000 leopards in the country, and a proper count or census is yet to be carried out.