15 November, 2018

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Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka Declares War In The Wild With AK47

By P. Soma Palan

P. Soma Palan

I refer to the Front page Headlined news report under the heading “Wildlife officials to be armed with AK47 Rifles”, which appeared in the Sunday Times of 2nd September. The Wildlife and Regional Development Minister, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has envisaged to Order 2568 AK 47 Assault Rifles to arm the Wildlife Officers, in a warlike effort: (a) to protect Wildlife (Elephants) from Poachers and (b) to solve the “Elephant- Human conflict”.

Financial cost of the Project

The purchase of the said weapons would cost Rs.42 million of Public Funds, and an additional, Rs.500 million for the purchase of Cabs for use of the Wildlife Officers. Further, another additional unknown cost, for the expansion of the Human Resource capital of 6000 Wildlife cadre, as per the statement of the Deputy Minister for Wildlife, Palitha Theveraperuma. Our Political Rulers, whichever the Government in power, has the knack to create artificial needs for purchases and job expansion, for their self- gain and to fortify their electoral support base. More the purchases, greater the cost value, greater the cost value, more the personal benefits. More the job expansion, more the political outcomes. This is, on a mistaken belief that job-expansion is economic development. Multiplying people at work, through job creation, without expanding the productive capacity, diminishes only the level of productivity of those engaged in work. Artificial creation of jobs leads to artificial need for facilities such as more Cabs/vehicles for surveillance duties amounting to Rs.500 million. This is a vicious cycle, which is a characteristic of the Government Service. There is rarely any attempt to increase productivity of human resources at constant capacity.

Protection of Wildlife (Elephants) from Poachers

The Wildlife Rangers, Assistant Rangers and wildlife Guards no doubt, need a standard Gun for their self-defense, during  their surveillance rounds in the wild, both against deadly wild animals and illegal armed poachers. This is understandable and a necessity. But, surely they are provided with this basic requirement, I believe, at present. However, do they need sophisticated automatic assault rifles of an AK47 kind, which is typically a military weapon? To be armed with such a lethal weapon, presupposes an intent to kill a human poacher or an animal. If it is the latter, then, it goes against the spirit of conservation of wild animals, which is really the rationale for setting up of a Wildlife Department, with the primary duty and responsibility to protect wildlife. A weapon is given to be used. If not, it is for mere display. Is not such a high powered and efficient automatic weapon goes beyond the purpose of a contingency, which is limited, few and far between? The threat to wildlife and/or to wildlife Rangers is not a military threat, deserving a military response.  This amounts to an over-exaggeration of a non-existent need to be armed with an automatic assault rifle. The possibility of such deadly weapons infiltrating to the domain of the criminals, through devious means, would result in widespread crime and contractual murders.

Elephant/Human Conflict

It is difficult to fathom how the provision of AK 47 assault rifles would solve the Elephant/Human conflict. The only implied inference is that the armed Wildlife Rangers could protect the human settlers in the forest borderlands, by killing the Elephants on rampage. Doesn’t this defeat the very purpose of wildlife conservation, by destroying wildlife? Aren’t there other civil, non-militaristic solutions to the Elephant/Human conflict and illegal poaching? What is needed, is ingenuous methods and strategies to overcome this problem. The provision of Guns, irrespective of their efficiency, is not the answer. There should be workable and pragmatic preventive measures and persistent vigilance and continuous surveillance of the forests borderlands.

Conclusion

I am not an expert on Wildlife conservation. I have no knowledge of the ground reality or terrain of the Wildlife sanctuaries. However, I can offer some suggestions, which are only a mental conceptualization. I do not know whether it is feasible or practicable. It is left to those Authorities concerned to explore the possibility of their adoption.

1. Ensure that Wildlife is left alone in their forest domain, free from interference by humans.

2. Prevent human settlers encroaching into the natural domain of Wildlife, the forest cover. Felling forest trees and clearing the land for human settlements must be closely watched and monitored. There should be no compromise on this aspect. Those involved in illegal felling of trees for Timber trade, particularly by politicians either directly or indirectly, must be severely dealt with. Eternal vigilance and surveillance of the Wildlife Rangers is required.

3. There should be a corridor of no man’s land between the Forest borders and human settlements with a sizeable gap making it difficult for elephants to attack human settlements.

4. Instead of the an electric fence as it is now, the possibility of having an excavated ditch of about 10 feet depth on the borderline of the forest covers, should be explored. On the outer-side of the ditch, a strong wall should be built using granite boulders making it impenetrable and indestructible for elephants. At reasonable intervals openings with iron Gates can be made to allow accessibility to wildlife Rangers to enter the forest cover to discharge their duties. This will not only prevent elephants attacking human settlements but also make it impossible for poachers to enter the forests.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    Somapalan: Who told you this. God ?

  • 2
    1

    The interesting thing is This article is written by SOMAPALAN. At the front it says R SAMBANTHAN. The most important thing is IT is Ranil who had instructed to kill the old Tuskers because they were old and waste of impotant funds which they do not have for that. I hearw those Tusks are still in the houise of a Minister. Besides, else where it says Sarath Fonseka has got approval to spend Rs 6 billion to protect elephant when all the tuskers were shot and died as they wanted it. Poor African countries treat Elpehants more humanely just like if they would treat their human children and they do not proect elephants this way as they do not have money.

  • 1
    0

    “This is, on a mistaken belief that job-expansion is economic development. Multiplying people at work, through job creation, without expanding the productive capacity, diminishes only the level of productivity of those engaged in work” –

    This has been happening in the state-sector for ages. This is the only known SL technique to fight unemployment issue. Who cares as long as people are there to accept new taxes and increases to existing taxes?

  • 0
    0

    The proposal of FM SF, even if it is made genuinely from the bottom of his heart, needs to be examined carefully. Does the ground situation of the wilderness warrant an automatic weapon of this kind? OK! If an automatic is required can he tell us why an AK-47 is preferred over a T-56 or a weapon belonging to the UZI type? If it is established that the current forest rangers who have no training in handling this type of military equipment and prove to be mis-handlers then what is his back up plan, is it to recruit former soldiers of his choice to the forest department? (They really loved the meat of deer and wild-boar) If the departmental frame-work is incapable of carrying out his wishes will he setup a wild life “protection” authority? I assure you that my mind is not running riot but to emphasize the point that let a proposed solution to a problem should not be the beginning of a series of problems.

  • 2
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    If we constrain our discussion only to wildlife conservation, I tend to mostly agree with Mr Soma Palan’s propositions, though I have to say I am no expert on this matter either. Other than the economic aspects of Field Marshal’s ‘call for arms’, there are significant socio-political aspects of this matter that we need to be gravely concerned with.
    Provision of AK 47 assault rifles would not solve the Elephant/Human conflict, unless bribery and corruption that prevail in the society in general and in the public service in particular are managed within a proper and implementable legal framework. These rifles could be used not against, but to protect wild life poachers when necessary making matters much worse.
    More importantly, these rifles will be easily accessible to all the players in any future potential armed conflict, as we have not addressed the root causes that gave rise to the previous conflicts.

  • 0
    0

    The Avant Garde Floating Armoury was founded and maintained for a similar reason. These ex-Army characters think alike do they not?
    Avant Garde was paid for by the taxpayer! Who pays for the 2568 AK47?

  • 2
    0

    “Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has envisaged to Order 2568 AK 47 Assault Rifles to arm the Wildlife Officers, in a warlike effort: (a) to protect Wildlife (Elephants) from Poachers and (b) to solve the “Elephant- Human conflict”. So these rifles are either to kill animals or humans. What will it solve after spending a colossal amount of money. Wild Life Conservation is the responsibility of the Minister, not the wiping out of wild life. If you don’t have a clue, go to other countries and study how it should be done. The country has no money to waste on ego boosting exercises.

  • 1
    0

    Kiri-Oya Bridge at Wasgamuwa National Park was declared opened by Minister of Sustainable Development and Wild Life Mr Gamini Jayawickrema Perera on 21st May 2017 which makes an easy access route to the Park via Dambulla but though more than a year has since passed, it has not still be opened to the Public as no funds have been allocated to build the necessary infrastructure.

    If this is opened it would generate more income to The Department of Wild Life and the people of the area.

    I hope the present Wildlife and Regional Development Minister, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka will take steps to open this entrance to the public soon.

  • 0
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    This is a waste of space. A cabinet paper erred by naming the weapon an AK-47. The weapon in question is an SAR-40, manufactured in China.

  • 2
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    Human destroy their habitat healthy forest population reaction.
    Preservationist and experts have repeatedly cautioned that the birds and the wild life in the area raised a serious threat to air traffic and urged the authorities to take At Habanthota Matala airport, necessary action.

  • 0
    0

    kill.kill.kill.sil.sil.sil.kill all the poachers.kill all the buggers who plundered the country.Kill all the drug dealers.kill all the murderers.Kill.kill.kill.then sil.sil.sil.Then kill.kill.kill.sil.sil.sil.

  • 0
    0

    do you expect any other sane proposal from an army man like SF mr soma.?
    once an army officer was telling me that national anthem in tamil is not necessary. another top police officer wanted to cut the tongue of a prisoner to make him shut the mouth.
    -dayal

  • 0
    0

    Well said Dayal. The proposal is not only insane but it also comes
    from a man who is insance. His brain is running as fast as his
    mouth.

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