In­ves­ti­ga­tions re­veal ele­phant killed for its tusks, 2 sus­pects re­manded

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS/COMMENT - By Ka­sun Warakapi­tiya

Two vil­lagers in the Udawalawe area have been ar­rested and pro­duced in the Well­awaya Mag­is­trate's court over the killing of Mu­galan, po­lice said.

The sus­pects iden­ti­fied as Ten­nakoon Mudiyanse­lage Ku l atunga Banda and Abey­sekara Chan­drasena we r e re­manded un­til De­cem­ber 19.

Act­ing Of­fi­cer in Charge ( OIC) S. D Dis­sanayake said their in­ves­ti­ga­tions have re­vealed that the sus­pects had killed the tusker to ob­tain its tusks.

“We have found ev­i­dence that the sus­pects had shoved pieces of metal into a muz­zleloader gun to shoot the tusker. The met­tle par­ti­cles were ex­tracted from the gun­shot wound," he said.

The of­fi­cer said the ar­rests were made on in­for­ma­tion ob­tained from Spe­cial Task Force of­fi­cials and po­lice in­tel­li­gence.

He said the trap gun set up by the two sus­pects had been found and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­tin­u­ing to find the “muz- zleloader gun” that was used to shoot the an­i­mal.

“They shot a pro­tected an­i­mal which was in­side pro­tected park," said Udawalawe head park ranger R. A. D. D. D Sa­ma­ranayake, adding that they were also con­duct­ing their own in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He said their probe re­vealed that only two shots had been fired to kill the tusker so as not to alert wildlife of­fi­cials.

Mr Sa­ma­ranayake said the tusker had been shot from the di­rec­tion of the main road.

Fur­ther ex­plain­ing, he said in most in­ci­dents where the an­i­mal is tar­get­ted for its tusks, poach­ers usu­ally shoot ran­domly at tuskers who come to­wards the park boundary. The poach­ers then fol­low the in­jured an­i­mal who heads in to the park and once it dies they col­lect the tusks.

“This time how­ever the shot was fired at close range and di­rected at a sen­si­tive point killing the an­i­mal on the sport," he said, adding that the sus­pects would be charged un­der the Fauna and Flora Pro­tec­tion Or­di­nance as they had com­mit­ted a se­ri­ous of­fence.

Mu­galan shot at close range. Pix by Rahul S. Het­tiarachchi

Wildlife of­fi­cials at the scene of the crime last week

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