Trouble at Ahungalla National Park…Again
By Gazala Anver
Officials from the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) conducted a raid on the Ahungalla Nature Park on March 13 and took into custody several protected animals, said OIC DWC Flying Squad R. A. D. D. Samaranayake.
The case has been referred to the Balapitya Magistrate Court and will be heard on March 28. The 29 animals are protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, and include 5 spotted deer, 1 salt water crocodile, 1 python, 3 giant squirrels, 4 Indian peafowl, 1 purple faced leaf monkey, 1 brahminy kite, 2 serpent eagles, 1 white bellied sea eagle and 2 Alexandrian parakeets.
According to Environmental Lawyer, Jagath Gunerwardena, all the birds are protected under Section 31 of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, which states that it is an offense to keep such birds in captivity.
The python is protected under Section 30 of the same Act, and under Section 30 sub section 2, the salt water crocodile is a strictly protected species, and it is a non-bailable offense to keep one.
“Under Section 55 of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, only the National Zoological Gardens can keep these animals,” he said. The rescued animals were sent to the Udawalawe Transit Home.
Chairman of the Ahungalla Nature Park, Dr. Danawardena Guruge however said that the some of the animals at the park were already there at the time the park was purchased from the previous owner. “We were asked by the Ministry of Environment to keep the animals at the park until they found a place for the animals,” he said. “Unfortunately, without looking into it, the DWC raided the park. We had already informed the Ministry about the animals and despite this, the park was raided,” he said.