Sri Lanka commits to protecting endangered wildlife: Minister


Jan 26, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has emphasized its commitment to protect endangered wildlife species at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on the side-lines of the 66th standing committee meeting of CITES held in Geneva, recently.

“The government had decided to destroy a confiscated blood ivory shipment on 26th January 2016 at the Galle Face Green in Colombo,” Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife said.

“The ivory stock will be publicly destroyed, with religious offerings to mark the unnecessary sacrifice of those elephants.”

In 2012, Sri Lanka Customs forfeited this shipment which consists of a consignment of 359 pieces of blood ivory, equalling 1.5 tonnes.

Addressing member states and civil society representatives the minister also said that the event highlighted to the world, and to everybody within our country, that we will not tolerate any illegal trade of ivory.

During the 66th Standing Committee meeting, Sri Lanka also announced its proposal for listing of three thresher shark species (“Kassa Mora”) under CITES Appendix II,  which will be considered at the CoP17 meeting in September 2016 to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sri Lanka also co-hosted a side–event on the 14 January 2016 alongside the Maldives, who have also submitted a proposal to list silky sharks under the same convention, to highlight the importance of listing both these shark species.

The Secretary-General of CITES, inaugurating the event, highlighted the successes of the previous shark listings at CoP16.

Perera also stressed that with 100 million sharks killed each year, strong action is clearly needed to protect them wherever they are found.

“The government is joining the global battle to save sharks and rays found at home in the Indian Ocean, and all around the world,”

He urged other countries to work together with Sri Lanka on the proposal submitted and encourage sustainable trade for these species.

Delegates from member states and civil society representatives who attended the side-event expressed notable interest in supporting the proposal.

The minister also held bilateral consultations with a number of countries to seek their support for Sri Lanka’s proposal on listing these shark species, as well as to explore other avenues of future bilateral cooperation in the conservation of wildlife species in Sri Lanka.