World Environment Day:
'Illegal Trade in Wildlife'
can Sri Lanka tackle illegal trade in wildlife, is the theme of an
expert session to be held at the Senate Hall, College House, University
of Colombo on June 9 at 4pm. The session has been organised to mark the
'World Environment Day', which falls on June 5 and conducted jointly by
the Biodiversity Sri Lanka, the Environmental Professionals of Sri Lanka
(IEPSL) and the Base for Enthusiasts of Environmental Science and
Zoology (BEEZ), a student body with a common interest in Zoology and
Environmental Sciences based at the University of Colombo.
Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, Director General, Department of Wildlife
Conservation will deliver the keynote address on this theme and its
relevance to Sri Lanka.
This will be followed by a panel discussion with eminent
professionals - Samantha Gunasekera, former Deputy Director of Customs,
Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection Division, Akram
Cassim, CEO, Colombo Jewellery Stores, Vasantha Leelananda, Executive
Vice President, John Keells Group, Prof Devaka Weerakoon, University of
Colombo and IUCN and Jagath Gunawardena, Attorney at Law.
The latest move by the local environmentalists came as it was found
that Sri Lanka is being used by the illegal wildlife traders operating
between Africa and the East Asia region, as a point of their operations.
This is proven through detection and seizure in 2012 by the Sri Lanka
Customs, of a blood ivory container with 359 pieces on board weighing
1.5 tonnes, en-route to Dubai from Kenya.
Another seizer of a massive consignment of 28 container loads of
Madagascar Dalbergia timber (Rose Wood) worth US$ 7million, which was
being transported from Zanzibar to Hong Kong via Sri Lanka in 2014 has
also been recorded.
Sri Lanka is strategically located in the global maritime route and
most of the container ships, particularly between Africa and the Gulf
region, to the East Asian region, pass through the Colombo Port.
A growing illegal wildlife trade between Africa and the East Asian
region takes place on this shipping lane. The 'Expert Session' on
tackling 'Illegal Trade in Wildlife' is sponsored by Sampath Bank.