Defenders of wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka: a cautionary note for the future of rangers

Supun L. Prakash, Gamini V. Samarakoon, Buddhika D. Madurapperuma, Suranjan Karunarathna, Thilina D. Surasinghe
2021 PARKS  
Providing physical protection to wildlife is among the most high-risk professions in the conservation sector as it is directly associated with the prevention of wildlife crimes. In Sri Lanka, the Department of Wildlife Conservation is the primary government agency responsible for the long-term conservation and protection of biological diversity. Since the establishment of the department in October 1949, there have been casualties in the line of duty among field officers of DWC. Here, we examine
more » ... the nature and the conditions that led to the demise of these field officers whilst on duty. From October 1949 to December 2020, at least 80 have been killed and one reported missing while on duty. The death rate averaged one officer per year. The major cause of death was terrorist attacks followed by encounters with free-ranging Asian Elephants, and confrontations with wildlife criminals. Providing physical protection to the wildlife and prevention of environmental crimes are critical pillars in conservation, therefore preventing untimely death of wildlife officers is paramount. Providing rigorous training for wildlife officers, protective gear, firearms, and other logistic resources and capacity building is imperative to boost the morale and career commitments of Sri Lanka's wildlife officers.
doi:10.2305/ fatcat:2dwulysjlvfbhlsx357bqicgbq