Wildlife Officer Wijekoon Who Was Verbally Abused By State Minister Once Narrowly Escaped Death While Trying To Protect Environment

November 27, 2020

Kumarasiri Wijekoon, the wildlife officer who was intimidated and verbally abused by State Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayake yesterday for trying to protect a forest reserve, has risked his life many a time to protect Sri Lanka’s national resources, environmental activists said.

A tense situation erupted yesterday between the Minister and wildlife officials when the former pushed for the construction of a road in the Polonnaruwa Jala Gengum valley reserve allowing grazing domestic cattle inside the reserve. A heated argument arose between the Minister and wildlife officials when the latter opposed the Minister’s moves.

“Do you think you are a big man? Don’t you know how to speak to a minister? If we decide, we will clear more forest lands,” State Minister Dissanayake said, threatening and intimidating the wildlife officials. Ironically, Dissanayake is also the minister in charge of wildlife resources, environment and Mahaweli.

“Wildlife officer Wijekoon who was verbally abused by the minister yesterday almost got killed by goons in the Elahera area when he tried to protect a forest reserve from trespassers who destroyed the flaura and fauna,” a Buddhist monk who is also an environmental activist wrote on Facebook.

“Wijekoon’s colleague, a wildlife official, was killed by them but he had a narrow escape. This explains the level of commitment of these officials to protect the environment. Every time he met me, he talked about the importance of working together to protect our animals and forest lands,” the Buddhist monk also said.

Last year, Wijekoon was instrumental in arresting ten individuals in Katuwanvila, Welikanda area in connection with several crimes including causing damage to plants, fishng in the Mahaweli river using explosives and trespassing into Jalagengum ninma national park.

Eight wildlife trade unions have launched a one day token strike today in protest of the Minister’s behavior yesterday.

© 2019 Asian Mirror (pvt) Ltd