Officials agree that the elephants were poisoned but are yet to discover whether it was a biological or an artificial substance that felled these magnificent creaturesBy Nisali de Silva & Yakuta Dawood | October 1, 2019
The government is investigating the death of six female elephants and one male elephant in Habarana and although the cause remains a mystery, investigators believe the elephants were poisoned, Minister of Tourism and Wildlife John Amaratunga said.
Addressing a press conference at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) today (01), Amaratunga said that the final conclusion on the cause of the deaths will be determined by a report due from the Government Analyst’s Department at the end of the week.
“Although the preliminary investigations have been concluded, more is yet to be done. The reports provided by the veterinary surgeons and other bodies should go to the Government Analyst for observations. We have received some interim reports today, but that is not the final conclusion,” Amaratunga said.
Addressing the media, Director General of Department of Wildlife Conservation M.G.C. Sooriyabandara said that the post mortem of all elephants have already been conducted.
“We received information about dead elephants on the 28th of September. Thereafter, I appointed a three-member committee consisting of a senior veterinary surgeon to investigate in this regard. We suspect that the deaths occurred due to chemical poisoning but we have to verify it because some agrochemicals, algae or biomaterials may have caused the deaths. We don’t have any clue if it is a deliberate attempt,” Sooriyabandara said.
“ This happened in a reserve. We have also noticed that some obstructions have been done to the elephant corridors. We carry out investigations in that regard as well. We are conducting special investigations to see if agrochemicals used for surrounding legal or illegal cultivations have caused this,”
The Minister further said that all line ministries and departments have been requested to work together to ensure that elephant corridors remain fully accessible to animals at all times.