In November 2019 the SLWCS officially wrote to the Forest Department, the Wildlife Conservation Department, the District Secretary of Matale and the Divisional Secretary of Wilgamuwa and the local police about this matter requesting them to take appropriate action to evict the buffaloes from the forest reserve. There are clear legal provisions in the Forest Ordinance to evict the cattle and prosecute the owners.
As a follow up the SLWCS convened a meeting in January 16, 2020 at our Field House and invited the regional Forest Department personnel and the local police. At the same time the Society reached out to the Conservator General and Forest Conservator of the Forest Department who gave their fullest support.
The following morning we were informed by the Forest Department personnel that they had filed a case against the owner, asked him to remove the buffaloes from the Forest Reserve and requested our help to remove the cattle stockades from the forest reserve.
We took our volunteers and provided manpower to remove the stockades. At the same time we understood that the buffaloes were providing a livelihood and we had to look at that aspect as well. We reached out to the owner and made him aware of the harm he was doing to the forest reserve as well as the fact that he was breaking the law by engaging in an illegal activity. To ensure that his livelihood was not impacted adversely by getting evicted from the forest reserve, we provided him with financial support to build a new cattle stockade in the village. Since then we have been frequently monitoring that section of the forest reserve as well as continue to engage with the cattle owner in our continuing efforts create win win solutions to benefit the people and wildlife in the Wasgamuwa Region.
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