Many Leopard Killings Go Uncounted, Deadly Banned Chemical Freely Available


More than 30 leopards had been killed since 2015, records at the Department of Wildlife indicate. Researchers however said that the number of deaths would be in hundreds if the non-recorded killings were included in the Department’s list.

Twenty leopards were killed due to traps and 12 due to poisoning and others due to unidentified causes, but also may be due to poisoning, says naturalist Rajika Gamage who is conducting a research on the upcountry leopards.He said that Carbofuran was one of the most toxic pesticides. It was marketed under the trade names Furadan. Gamage wonders how such a banned chemical is freely available in the local market, especially in the upcountry. He believes that the government should work on programmes especially when it comes to upcountry where culture and biodiversity should go hand in hand. Leopard is a protected species since 1964 under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO). According to Director General Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) M.G.C Sooriyabandara there is no problem with the FFPO.He believes that penalties/fines are strict enough. However, the Department is not in a position to carry out the task single-handedly. The Department needed the support of the Police, villagers and other officials living in those areas. A collective effort could make things more efficient, a Department official said.Renowned environmentalist/ Senior Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said that the fines are imperative depending on the judge. He added: “As per the legal protection, the leopard is a species protected under Section 30 sub-section 2 of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Therefore, killing, injuring the animal, keeping a body part of the animal in one’s possession and using a weapon to injure or to kill the animal are offenses. The fine for each offense could go up to Rs. 100,000. If it was killed in a protected area then it’s another offense under Sections 5 and 6 of the FFPO.”