25 September, 2020

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Tuesday Is The Day; Sri Lanka To Burn Blood Ivory

By Vidya Abhayagunawardena

Vidya Abhayagunawardena

Vidya Abhayagunawardena

A much-talked-about forfeited blood ivory in 2012 will be destroyed at the Galle Face Green under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday the 26th of January. For this historic occasion, President Sirisena invited the Secretary General Mr. John E. Scanlon of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Mr. Scanlon will be the first Sec. Gen. of the CITES to visit to Sri Lanka and perhaps the South Asian Region. Also this ivory destruction event will be held for the first time in the South Asian Region.

Gamini Jayawickrema Perera Minister for Sustainable Development and Wildlife has been in the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) since it came into power early last year. At the time he was a Minister for Food Security, but he took up the ivory issue with the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet as well. The writer of this article persuaded him many times on this issue. Fortunately he became the subject Minister for Wildlife in October last year and has speeded up the process to destroy the blood ivory with an international gathering in Colombo. Ravi Karunanyake Minister for Finance and Planning has given fullest support through the Sri Lanka Customs which is bearing the cost in order to show that Sri Lanka government’s keen interest and support for the eradication of the international illegal wildlife trade, particularly the blood ivory trade.

The previous government tried to steal the blood ivory in the guise of distributing it to Buddhist temples, which became international news and tarnished the image of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a state party to the CITES since 1979, and a state party cannot do such a thing. Thanks to the brave officials of the customs, local and international media, INGOs and NGOs this issue was further raised in Parliament at the time by Ranil Wickramesinghe as Opposition Leader. The writer of this article had urged that the new government destroy the blood ivory in public in Colombo. This month celebrates the new government’s first year in office and is fulfilling a long-awaited blood ivory destruction. Thanks are due for this to the Government of Sri Lanka.

Blood Ivory1The crushing of blood ivory in Sri Lanka is important for many reasons. Among them, that this will be the first ivory crush in the South Asian Region, and the country will join with the international community to curb the illegal international trade of wild fauna and flora and zero tolerance policy on blood ivory. This event will help in reapplying for GSP plus since the CITES is one of the conventions that come under the GSP Plus. Inviting the CITES Secretary General John E. Scanlon for the ivory-crush event will speed up the process of ratifying the convention to which Sri Lanka has been signatory since 1979. Due to the policies of previous government’s it was not able to ratify the convention. For the first time Minister level participation occurred at the recently concluded 66th Standing Committee Meeting of CITES by Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera. With the CITES Secretary General’s presence in the country, the government could announce that it would ratify the convention soon.

There is no doubt that the event of blood ivory crushing will get world attention through the international media. With this event Sri Lanka will be able to show that the country has diverse land and sea fauna and flora and is considered to be one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. This can boost tourism in the future, particularly wildlife-related tourism. The Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka named seven flagship animals the “Top Seven Wild Sri Lanka” which is giving priority for their conservation. They are the elephant, leopard, bear, back-necked stork, saltwater crocodile, leatherback turtle and blue whale. Sri Lanka’s wildlife tourism industry will survive only if these critically endangered animals live in land and sea. The Top Seven Wild Sri Lanka is either classified as ‘Protected’ or ‘Strictly Protected’ under the Fauna and Flora Protection Act. No. 22 of 2009 of Sri Lanka, ‘Threatened’, ‘Nearly Threatened’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as well as they are listed in the CITES. At the blood ivory crushing event, stamps on “Top Seven Wild Sri Lanka” will also be released as a gesture which will show the world the country’s commitment on conservation.

The ivory-crushing event will be followed by a religious ceremony which will include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. This will be a ‘first time’ at a destruction of blood ivory. At the ivory crushing event, the 10th issue of the Wildlife Journal will be launched and there will be paintings and a book exhibition on elephants at the Galle Face Green to educate people. It will show the world Sri Lanka’s commitment on conservation, and its zero tolerance policy on blood ivory. Having books on elephants and their images are more meaningful than collecting ivories and having elephants in homes for many good reasons. No religion promotes ivory worship and the Buddha never preached on ivories and elephants at homes or temples. Elephants will be extinct soon from the earth as conservationists predict. The human-elephant conflict is no more considered as a conservation issue. It is rather a developmental issue. In addition, if humans do not allow elephants to live freely in their own habitats, humans will be responsible for the extinction of elephants soon.

*Vidya Abhayagunawardena can be reached at vidyampa@hotmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Praise be to the guardians of this Blessed Isle that we are about to do ‘the right thing’.

    Those were dark days when proposals were made in the time of the MR Presidency that this blood-soaked loot be distributed to the temples. The only disquiet is that certain people are said to have ‘saved’ some of the haul for reasons best known to them.

    • 2
      0

      So did they burn them as scheduled ?

      If Maifa kind was in power, he would have distributed them to this kith and kin no matter any harm would have been the case for both animals and human beings.

      The problem of this country is we dont have leaders of the kind Dr Merkel – that would work with wisdom. All the senior leftists have lost their penises – even OXFORD educated GLP has been tamed by Rajapakshe abusive nature. They should be tter stick off the ” SINHALE ” sticker on thier both orifices. So that the longing people could do the job well.

      • 1
        0

        Mafia King- …

    • 1
      0

      They the abusers were in office, they would have made big monies out to these irvories. Ivory prodcuts are legally banned in Germany. Afro and other foreigners are into that kind of illegal business in this part of the world.

      This is indeed a great thing, if the current regime was able to discard them without giving any business men to make monies. It is really nice principles being given the place – rather than the money values.

      The issue that Mafia king to have hidden sack of currencies in the sand filled swimming pool – the news disgusted us all here. Looking at the manner the bugger et al the way he governed the nation, anyting and everything is possible by their men.

    • 1
      0

      Spring Koha

      “Praise be to the guardians of this Blessed Isle that we are about to do ‘the right thing’. “

      “The only disquiet is that certain people are said to have ‘saved’ some of the haul for reasons best known to them.”

      They will burn the fake ivory, and keep the real blood ivory.

  • 1
    0

    It is indeed a positive outcome, given that the previous GOSL, against all norms, wanted to donate the tasks to various people. However,The Daily News reported that “A ceremony to bury the remains will also be held” (http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/01/11/security/blood-ivory-be-interred-galle-face-jan-26) which is rather different to either burning or crushing them; is this a ploy to then dig them all out one day for distribution?

    • 1
      0

      Sumudu,

      I travelled to the country at the time, campaigners were working for last prez election. Then again I happend to pay an another visit to the country in july twice.. there I saw the difference .. real difference.

      Last year Nov it was like every one was compelled to see the barbaric face of Mahinda Rajaakshe whereever you walked up in colombo. But by last july not even a single banner of the current rulers were there… how efficient the current rulers had worked on changing the system – was clearly seen.

      • 0
        0

        Nice not to have to see the smiling and beautiful faces of Mahinda Chinthanaya and Maithripala Yahapalanaya more than we have to

        Removing a cardboard cutout is good (and easy to do)

        But Nepotism Mawatha is still open for business.

        • 0
          0

          If you are honest – comparably it has gone down to all the margin.. dont think so ?

          At the time, ballige putha led govt took any kind of decisions that had a greater impact on the nation (DIVINAGUMA) who were inthe front run ? His brother or not ?

          Today, can we see the kind of issues ? No.. if Sirisena offsprings have dreams to go to politics – they should achieve it by going through all the steps – that to be respected is also the duty of the nation, becaues they are also human beings. Just because Rajapkshe abused it as no other leader, every step being taken by Prez Sirisena must not be comparable to those of them.

          And alone the travels – made by Rajapakshe -remember the day he like a king of the state was helicoptered to Lanzsa (one of the kin pin of drug dealing) at the time Lanza was about to be arrested by POlice….
          Was this investigated by any courts or prevailing laws inthe country ?

          The bugger President, as no other leader would do, behaved as a thug… being intervened in the affairs of police… but today, we can be happy, police is to that extent free from taking decisions. Even if the levels are not reached to the tangible …
          All in all – I never think Nepotism that we experienced iin the dayas of Rajapakshe donkey.. is no way comparable to the standards enjoyed bypeople today.

          • 0
            0

            @sama

            Of course we must compare Maithripala Yahapalanaya to Mahinda Chinthanaya!!

            Because it is by comparing themselves to MR and his administration that MS and his administration came to power, promising us a future without the same excesses and the recovery of many times the national debt and no nepotism (still waiting for that, by the way)

            Nepotism is nepotism. Whether it is the 100% of MR or the 50% of MS.

            If Sirisena offspring want to do politics, let them do it themselves. NOT because their daddy is President, which is the case today.

            Why should First Son go to UN and inspect army ? He has no official standing in government or armed forces. Why First Daughter is opening schools ? She has no official standing in Education Dept or Ministry of Education. How come First Brothers are suddenly elevated to High Posts ?

            If you support the above (or excuse it), then you cannot in any conscience, object to MR having done the same.

        • 0
          0

          Malu,

          fact is our people are alway on complaining, but not doing the due when it comes to act… each and everyone of the nation is made responsible to turn this nation a civlized one.

          Can you honestly say, that the average is aware of this ? They may come with the excuses that majoirty are struggling on the survival… anyways, where germans or japanese worked hard to acheve their levels expreienced today, they had worked for a cup of KENDA (proridge). Are the average of the country – this minded ? no not at all. Rigoroous way of hard working nature should be injected to each and everyone. That can only be achieved thorugh rigorous law enforcement.

  • 2
    0

    One of the TV channels interviewed Gangaramaya Hamuduruwo and he mentioned that it should not be destroyed and should be distributed to temples since they are considered sacred.

    For once in the history of the country politicians are doing the right thing by destroying the catch without listening to all types opinion makers.

    MARA must be thinking how come he lost out on a deal !!!

    • 0
      0

      Jagath, Podi Hamuduruwo is an idiot. Huge collections of ancient coins etc are on display at his temple. I saw an elephant used in a perahara chained to a tree there. It is true that he does a lot of good social work but that is not the purpose of monkhood. He should be disrobed, but who would dare when his robe is green?

    • 1
      0

      This Gangaramaya Monk is just as greedy for the filthy lucre and trappings of this world as the next person.

      Naturally he will want the tusks ! They are valuable and exactly because of that value, the elephants of this world facing extinction.

      I’ve just seen that sickening set of photos and videos of how this so-called Holy Man allows the creatures under his care to be abused mercilessly

      AND I find it very odd that every administration supported him allowing him to become the multi millionaire that he is today

  • 3
    1

    I’ll applaud only when all ivory is removed from Buddhist temples and destroyed.

  • 2
    0

    I appreciate the writer’s efforts to educate the people about obligations of the Government of Sri Lanka under the CITES Convention and about this event.

    I think that the Nation owed a word of thanks to Mr Samantha Gunasekara, a nature lover and the former Head of the Customs Biodiversity Directorate for his untiring efforts to observe Sri Lanka’s obligations under the CITES.

    If not for Samantha’s efforts, that forced Rajapakse regime to abandon it’s surreptitious plan to rob this confiscated shipment, this event would never have occurred and by now the whole stock pile of ivory would have been disappeared, bringing the Nation into disrepute in the eyes of International Community.

  • 1
    1

    It is extremely difficult to properly destroy ivory.

    http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/02/destroying-elephant-ivory-stockpiles-no-easy-matter/

    It must be crushed and then incinerated by high temperature flame.

    How about the mounted tusks in temples and sanghavasas.
    Will they too be destroyed ?

  • 1
    0

    The ivory-crushing event will be followed by a religious ceremony which will include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

    So, it will be a political event.

    How come what Allah created or Almighty created is burned to ashes by humans ?

  • 0
    4

    It is simply stupid, decision from the govt to burn these tusks..

    Some kind of sadism. People may get some sadistic joy out of that.

    Sri lanka did not kill those tuskers, WE just use those for good purpose, why it is wrong ?

  • 2
    0

    I too initially had a similar opinion. But the CITES Convention forbid the dealing with smuggled Ivory in other manner.

    I am also of the opinion that this is utter waster of precious ivory and in a way an act of insult to injury to the innocent elephants whose lives are being mercilessly robbed by the inhuman humans.

    In my opinion there shall be a provision in the CITES to call tenders worldwide and to sell this ivory to the highest bidder, permitting CITES to use the proceeds for the rehabilitation of the ivory poachers in Africa.Unfortunately the Convention does not permit any such action.

    Read the article published in the UK Guardian of which the link is given below. This article shed more light on destruction of ivory under the tag ‘to create awareness of illegal trade of ivory’.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/06/does-destroying-ivory-save-elephants

    • 0
      0

      It is the western hegemony that decides every thing for the world.

      India is a feeble country who only can bully their smaller neighbours like nepal, Sri lanka and bhutan.

      Why Russia and China are silent.

      There should be a better way.

      • 1
        0

        @Jim softy

        China is silent because the biggest market for ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species products is China .. basically markets in the East.. and it seems that if Gangaramaya Monk has his way, Sri Lanka will also be adding to that market because he also wants elephant tusks

  • 0
    1

    Why not sell and make money and give them to charities. It looks like foolish act. If catch smuggled gold, wallapatta or gems do they destroy?

    • 0
      0

      @Peter

      The poaching was done in the first place because of MONEY

      No creature (endangered or otherwise) dies or has to be killed for Gold or Gems or Walappatta. Such items I believe are usually sold by customs auction.

      These are NOT such items.

  • 0
    1

    The elephants are dead, now the reason they died for is also being destroyed….who or what gains by this ?

    • 0
      0

      @Don Quixote

      Someone is murdered and their goods stolen
      Murderer/Crook is caught, charged, found guilty and sent to prison or executed.

      Was it a waste of the Murder ?

      That is the gist of your argument

  • 1
    0

    whistleblower in 2013!!!!!!!!!!!

    **********
    info@savetheelephants.org,
    christian.laufenberg@iucn.org

    to info @ christian.lauf.
    @William. Elephant Trust.

    ++++++++

    Colombo

    Sri Lanka

    07/02/2013

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Illegal distribution of seized Blood Ivory from Kenya to China via the Buddhist Temples in Sri Lanka.

    We wish to bring your kind notice that Sri Lanka Customs seized in May 2012 shipment of 359 tusks en route to Dubai. They had been identified as being poached in Kenya also known as ‘Blood Ivory’.

    Very unfortunately, Sri Lanka Presidential Secretariat aka The President forces and Rajapakse family forces the Sri Lanka Customs to release the tusks to Buddhist Temples under the disguise of boosting image of Buddhism though Buddhism has nothing to do with Tusks but the president has very sinister motives.

    It’s no secret if the 1.5 tons of tusks fall into the hands of the President and siblings, the blood cargo will be immediately shipped to China and then to the black markets for a very lucrative price.

    The Federation of Environmental Organization (FEO) of Sri Lanka vigorously campaigning against this move to stop the blood ivory falls into the wrong hands and are powerless before the very powerful Presidential Secretariat and Rajapakse siblings.

    Therefore, we kindly plea International Organization to stop this illegal act (is also against the Sri Lanka Constitution) or otherwise, Sri Lanka will soon become a major hub or transit point of African Ivory, Rhino Horns, etc in the future.

    You also may verify and for further detail by login into http://www.dailymirror.lk a well reputed daily news paper in Sri Lanka and http://www.feosl.org Federation for Environmental Organization of Sri Lanka.

    Please act before it’s too late!!!

    Remain sincerely to you.

    *******

    ***************

    *******************************

  • 1
    0

    Please let this be a beginning for global protection. They must survive. Can not imagine this world without elephants.

  • 0
    0

    Today it is reported that the President and Prime Minister kept away from the ivory destruction ‘ceremony’ due to ‘astrological’ reasons.

    Other nations must be laughing at us.
    Do we need leaders of this calibre.

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