Customs’ decision on tusks troubles environmentalistsMay 23, 2012, 10:43 pm
by By Ifham Nizam
A decision by the Sri Lanka Customs to donate a large haul of elephant tusks seized at the Port of Colombo on Tuesday to Buddhist temples has troubled leading environmentalists and researchers.
According to Researcher and Elephant Specialist Manori Gunawardana, the Customs Department’s decision to donate the ivory to temples is tantamount to tacitly condoning the poaching of hundreds of elephants in Africa by making it a status symbol.
"The contraband should be destroyed like narcotics etc. seized by Customs," she stressed.
Environmental Lawyer and activist Jagath Gunawardana told The Island that he had been shocked to hear of the Customs decision.
"It also reflects badly on the country, because it looks as if we were trying to unjustly enrich ourselves with the illegal ivory," he said. He added the donation of the tusks to some temples would prompt other temples also to demand them.
Gunawardena said the Customs should be commended for making such a huge detection in the run-up to the ‘Initiative South Asian Wildlife Enforcement’ to be held in Sri Lanka next month. The focal point of the meet would be the Customs and Wildlife Departments, he said.
Environmental Conservationist Pubudhu Weerathne observed that though there were elephant tusks in some temples obtained from donors, there was no Buddhist tradition as such to have ivory in temples.
What’s Sri Lanka’s best overseas Test win?
Last Updated May 24 2013 | 07:02 pm