Monday, May 28, 2018

When you appoint the fox to protect the chicken coop, no wonder the farm hands will down tools in protest!

In a classic case of the above, after the popular (as in with people) person was appointed as the Deputy Minister in Charge of Wildlife, you get fireworks.


We have a “People versus the Wildlife” War going on in Sri Lanka today, and no one seems to care or are bothered about it, of the consequences, nor do they have a plan to minimize this conflict, by at least having a cessation of hostilities.

So when people demonstrate blocking roads in rural areas, by placing a coffin in the middle of the road, of someone killed by an elephant, they have no one but the lowly staff of the Wildlife Department, that they take out their anger against. When they come to chase the Wild Elephant away, or capture it, the people go after the Wildlife Staff, who then  are in fear of their own lives, trying as best as they can with limited resources to do their job.

Ask any Wildlife Officer/Game Ranger, how, at the risk of his own life, he goes to settle a situation of Human Elephant, or Human Animal Conflict. It is a very tense situation, which can easily get out of hand when passions rise, as people who have lost property, limb or life turn on you as the person they blame for not protecting them, as authority responsible are conveniently absent.

The Recent Incident of the Bear in the Room!

A Bear had been brought to the Specialist Facility in Giritale that rehabilitates wild animals and birds etc. because of some sort of injury. This bear had been put into a cage, that was made of wood, as they had not been provided with cages made of steel for better protection. This bear had gotten loose and had gone out into the local community and was in the process of attacking a person, when the Wildlife Department were called to the scene.

They carry a certain specified firearm for their security, but are not normally in possession of tranquilizer darts, because the concentration, and amount can only be determined by the Vet and usually there are only 5 Vets for the whole Island in the Department of Wildlife, to say nothing of the Cost. The Wildlife Department is notoriously short of funds, despite the fact that the Government rakes in Billions in extortionate fees from Foreigners who enter their National Parks. I am explaining this in painful detail only because our armchair Columbian pundits, say that the animal should have been tranquilized with a dart, as the means of solving this without upsetting the armchair critics.

So it was that, it was a life and death situation, and the bear was killed to save the innocent person being killed. There were no other option in that instant.

The Deputy Minister of Wildlife had come storming into the Office, after already having shouted his mouth off on the way, at some other Government Servants in Galewela, who were doing a drill for emergency situations, by staging a mock accident. 

The wrath of his ire was the hapless staff, in this case 4 who were present in this incident, where they were barked out in raw filth, in full view of the present media, belittling this chap Samaranayake, who was pleading with the Minister to hear him out. The minister had the insensitivity to bark that he was trying to save his job, not even taking the time to investigate who this man was, what his background was, and how skillful he is in his job.

The Video Clip of the incident has not gone Viral and the Minister is now toast, trying to save his own skin, and his fate even may be sealed if there is sense in sensibility. I wonder how his gallery will take this scenario! You live and learn.

However, four including the Vet have been interdicted. Remember there are only 11 people in total, at the facility, to look after all the sick animals, baby elephants, baby leopard cub to name just a few. They work all day and night, administering to their needs, like foster parents, and only once they feel the animal is able to survive on their own in the wild are they released.

To have 4 people removed from duty, is a huge test for the remaining people, who simply cannot double up their time to take up the slack, and who suffer, but the animals. So instead of promising more resources, so this kind of incident is prevented in the future, there are less resources, to test the patience of the dedicated staff, further diminishing their morale and possibly ensuring that experienced people leave this service, for lack of recognition, and worse, to be held to account for the dereliction of the Government in providing the needed resources.

Moral of the Story

Don’t jump like a bull in a china shop to assert your power. Humility is the order of the day, understanding the issue, before taking action is the second, and taking steps to rectify is the third. None of this was done in this instance.

Isn’t it ironic! the view of his supporters is, he is a humble politician, who dives in and takes the people’s side in every instant against the establishment. In this whose side did he take? Surely, the Establishment asserting its power. So when human leopards change their spots, we can have no confidence, More reason then, to separate Wildlife to the Professionals to rationalize and manage.

A detailed report (Ceylon Today of 1st June 2018) of the bear incident from Giritale, that gives the reader an indication of the problems involved to balance the criticism leveled at the staff on the ground who have to work under very difficult situations, as they are severely under- resourced and under- staffed.


Anonymous said...


Forest and Wildlife and reservation and Coastal Areas, have to be managed by a de politicized Organization that is independent of the Government of the day. Their responsibility is to protect the Biodiversity of the Country, so that the Species Survival of the Human Race in Sri Lanka has a chance.

We have still not taught the basic lesson of human survival to our populace. It is to ensure that the Biodiversity of the Country is not harmed, only then than will the human being be able to live. Can there be anything more simple than that to understand.

Politicians only ensure that by their actions the human race disappears, with only them remaining to share the spoils, hence the attraction.

Anonymous said...

Samaranayake is one of the most experienced people handling wildlife in this Country. He knows how to care for and treat many species and is worth his weight in gold. He loves the animals and you cannot find a replacement like that.

To think that he has been interdicted by a pea brain, is hard to swallow, but then that is what is wrong with Sri Lanka, all our leaders are pea brains.

So to be told off like a pick pocket, by a pick pocket is hard to take, and if you saw the video clip on TV, you would now understand the circumstances better.

It looks like this Minister has cooked his own balls in full public view

Anonymous said...

To put in perspective

A day without Samaranayake means 1000 species deaths

A day with a politician is also 1000 species deaths

Moral - Politicians are bad for species survival, human or animal (biodiversity)