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Sunday, 05 June 2016

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World Environment Day:

'Illegal Trade in Wildlife'

How 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.

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