In Sri Lanka, around four per cent of the elephant population consists of tuskers. They are being killed, sometimes with the knowledge of government politicians, for their tusks. History shows the involvement of wildlife ministers and officials.
There are fools, in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world, who believe that keeping baby elephants after killing their mothers, tusks and their other body parts will bring them prosperity. To satisfy their wishes, Asian and African elephants are being killed. According to US wildlife statistics, 100,000 African and 40,000 Asian tuskers had been killed between 2011 and 2014. Many more killings must have gone unreported.
China has the main market for tusks, to be used as an energizer and to keep them to bring them fortune. That is similar to killing mothers and taking their little ones to temples and processions in Sri Lanka. Racketeers in China, US, India and European countries are involved in the sale of elephant tusks as well as bone parts of tigers, gorillas and rhinos. The Guardian of the UK says Boko Haram, Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabaab terror groups earn more than 19 million dollars a year from such rackets.
The convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora was adopted as early as 1960 to protect more than 5,600 animal and 30,000 plant species. Sri Lanka ratified it on 04 April 1979, and will have to act according to the convention. But, what happens is to the contrary.
Killing elephants can be prevented only if the wildlife ministry acts firmly. If its ministers and top officials see animals as commercial goods, no animal will be safe. Unity among those who love nature will help prevent the loss of tuskers like Dala Poottuwa.
Ravindra Kariyawasam – Environment and Nature Studies Centre