Colombo, Jul 22 (IANS): Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the wildlife department to probe the incidents of the deaths of leopards killed in snares in recent weeks.
The Prime Minister directed Wildlife Director General M.G.C Sooriyabandara to conduct a prompt investigation and initiate legal action against those responsible after at least four leopards were killed in recent days.
The latest killing was reported on Monday after a female leopard was killed after being caught in a snare in northern Sri Lanka while three other deaths were reported from other areas which included a rare black leopard, Xinhua news agency reported.
Rajapaksa said it was the responsibility of the government to protect these endangered species and issued a directive to the Wildlife Department to educate plantation communities to ensure that such incidents are prevented in the future and steps are taken to protect the wildlife.
Wildlife officials in Sri Lanka have said the survival of the Sri Lankan leopard is threatened due to habitat loss and fragmentation primarily due to poaching and human-related leopard deaths.
Last month Sri Lanka opened the world's first Leopard Information Centre at the country's most famous wildlife park, the Yala National Park, in southeastern Sri Lanka.