June 14, Colombo: President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed relevant officials to allow the last two rare elephants to continue to remain at the Sinharaja forest reserve, a World Heritage site.
The President instructed the Environment Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake and Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation Anura Sathurusinghe to keep the two elephants in the Sinharaja forest reserve until a decision is taken after a proper procedure is adopted, the President's Media Division said.
If the two elephants were to be relocated for some reason, the President instructed the officials, to ensure that they are relocated only after a complete scientific study is carried out by a group of experts.
President Sirisena gave these instructions at a meeting with the officials of the Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry today (14th) at the Ministry.
The President instructed the officials to take steps to conserve the animals in their own territory in order to protect the country's wild elephants.
Authorities had planned to translocate the two elephants to the Horowpathana elephant protection center. However environmental conservationists had vehemently opposed this move.
The President also emphasized the responsibility of preserving the value of the Sinharaja Forest which has received the special attention of the world community.
The President instructed the officials to accelerate the construction of the elephant fence in order to prevent the disturbance from the two elephants to the residents.
Ajith Mannapperuma, who was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Environment, assumed duties at the Ministry today (14th) in the presence of the President.