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Release of 15 elephants; Letter Demand served on six persons including AG

Sri Lanka Elephants

A letter of demand has been served on the Attorney General’s Department, Cabinet Minister Wildlife, State Minister Wildlife, Ministry Secretaries, Chief Curator Pinnawala, Director General Wildlife and Director General Zoo over the controversial release of 15 elephants from state custody.

Attorney-at-Law and Notary Public K. Nimmi Sanjeewani served the Letter Demand on behalf of his clients the Centre for Environmental Justice, (Guarantee) Limited, Athragoda Kankanamge Dilena the Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice Ms. Panchali Madurangi Panapitiya, Ms. Maheshi Nanayakkara and Ms. Wadduwage Visakha Perera Tillekeratne.

The letter demands states:

“I am instructed to state that on or around 06th of September 2021, the Learned Magistrate of Colombo Fort Magistrate Court and the Learned Magistrate of Matale Magistrate Court ordered the Director-General of National Zoological Gardens to release elephants that were in the custody of the Department of National Zoological Gardens as productions in Cases bearing Nos. B 23073/01/15 and B 941/14, respectively back to their so-called owners, upon the consideration of an application made by the Officer-in-Charge of the Special Investigation Unit No. 01 of the Criminal Investigation Department based on the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2241/41 dated 19.08.2021 issued under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended and on your instructions.

Accordingly, 15 elephants which were held under the custody of the Department of National Zoological Gardens as productions were released back to those accused of illegally capturing them from the wild and keeping them in their possession under fraudulent documents and/ or without registering them in terms of the provisions of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No. 2 of 1937 as amended.

I am instructed to state that the said application made before the Learned Magistrates for the release of productions of an unconcluded matter is contrary to the provisions of Section 6 (3)(c) of the Interpretation Ordinance No. 21 of 1901 as amended.

This not only worsens the plight of elephants that were illegally captured from the wild but also undermines every effort made by conservationists and wildlife advocates to protect the country’s dwindling elephant population.”

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