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Countrywide elephant census next year



A new countrywide census is expected to be conducted next year, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation – Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday (15).

The last elephant census in Sri Lanka was conducted in 2011.

The minister said that a long-term program to reduce human-elephant conflict will be prepared and as one of the measures, a full census of elephants will be conducted.

The Minister said this at the first meeting of the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation held yesterday (15) for the third session of the Ninth Parliament.

The minister mentioned this when the MPs asked about the elephant-human conflict, which has become a serious problem day by day. Accordingly, many MPs drew the attention of the minister about the human elephant conflict in various areas including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Ratnapura, Ampara districts.

It was also revealed that a number of reasons, including the reduction of elephant habitats and the significant increase in elephant population, have led to human-elephant conflict.

The minister said that 16 main elephant corridors in the island have been blocked and due to this the arrival of elephants in the villages has increased.

Accordingly, the minister further said that these obstacles will be removed promptly.

Also, the minister said that the President has appointed a committee to find solutions to the human-elephant conflict, and based on the committee’s decisions, he hopes to prepare a program with long-term solutions.

The minister also said that a series of separate meetings will be organized in those districts to discuss the existing problems related to the protection of wildlife and forest resources, and in consultation with public representatives and government officials, steps will be taken to provide the necessary solutions without delay.

The members also drew the committee’s attention to the damage caused to crops by animals such as monkeys, peacocks, etc. The minister also said that tough decisions will be taken to reduce these damages.

It was also discussed at the committee about the hardships faced by the farmers during the demarcation of the boundaries by the Department of Forest Resources Conservation. The minister instructed the officials to provide solutions in such a way that the people are not affected.


Accomplice of ’’Kudu Salindu’’ arrested




A suspect running the drug network of the main shooter of “Kudu Salindu” has been arrested, the Special Task force said today (March 25).

Officers of STF organized Crime III had conducted a raid on the Panadura-Horana road where a 33 year old man was in possession of 10kg of cannabis and Rs. 100,000 was arrested.

The suspect had been transporting it on a motorbike in the guise of a food delivery.

The suspect was revealed to be the person who handled the drug network in Panadura and the financial affairs of the main shooter of Underworld mobster Kudu Salindu, “Beliatta Rana”, who is currently in Dubai.

In the past three years, the STF has seized 217kg 328g of heroin, 47kg 47g of ice, 4722kg of Cannabis, 70461 illegal drugs and 11023 drugs pills have been seized.

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Mississippi tornado kills 26 and brings devastation to US state




Search and rescue efforts are continuing in Mississippi after a deadly tornado hit the US state.

At least 25 people have died in the state, and one in Alabama, with dozens more left injured by Friday’s tornado.

The storms devastated several rural towns, with Rolling Fork in western Sharkey County almost completely wiped out.

Mississippi state governor Tate Reeves has declared a state of emergency to help respond to the damage.

US President Joe Biden also described the images coming out of Mississippi as “heartbreaking”, and said the federal government would “do everything we can to help”.

“We will be there as long as it takes. We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover,” he said in a statement.

More storms are predicted to hit parts of Alabama and Georgia early on Sunday and potentially bring large hail.

The storm system which ripped through Mississippi produced a tornado that has caused catastrophic damage to communities across the state. The biggest twister obliterated dozens of buildings in several small towns, flipping cars on their sides and toppling power lines.

The small town of Rolling Fork, located in Sharkey County in western Mississippi, has essentially been wiped out, according to its mayor.

“My city is gone,” Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN. “But we’re resilient and we’re going to come back.”

He added that lots of families in his community were “affected and hurting”, and all he could see was “devastation”.

Rolling Fork residents said windows were blown out of the back of their homes.

Local resident Brandy Showah told CNN: “I’ve never seen anything like this… This was a very great small town, and now it’s gone.”

Drone footage of Rolling Fork, shared with the BBC, shows the devastation inflicted on the town. Trucks and trees are shown piled on top of buildings, with detritus scattered over large areas.

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Government has no plans to dismantle CSD – Sagala




The Government has no intention of dissolving the Civil Service Department (CSD), Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of the Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake said.

He stated that the Civil Service Department was approved as a depreciable service according to the 2015 Cabinet paper, but that period has now lapsed, President’s media Division (PMD) said.

Ratnayake noted that the members of the Civil Service Department are allowed to request a service extension beyond the age of 55, enabling them to serve for up to 60 years.

He emphasized that there have been no alterations to these policies and that there are no plans to modify them in the future.

He made these statements while participating in an appreciation ceremony held yesterday (24) afternoon at the headquarters of the Civil Service Department in Katubedda, Moratuwa, to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of the officers of the Civil Service Department.

During the ceremony, which was chaired by the Minister of State for Defence Premita Bandara Tennakoon, the contributions of the Civil Service Department in service to the country were recognized and appreciated.

During his visit, Mr. Ratnayake also interacted with the members of the Civil Service Department, inquiring about their work and engaging in friendly conversation.

The Director General of the Civil Service Department, Major General Ranjith Kalkahewege (Retired), presented a commemorative gift to both Sagala Ratnayake and the Minister of State for Defence, Premita Bandara Tennakoon, to mark the occasion.

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