Our country fines 50 cents for animal cruelty

It’s not long ago that Sri Lanka made headlines for our hospitality for stranded tourists during the Coronavirus pandemic. But how good are we at transferring that humanity and compassion towards animals? Apparently not very good.

Photo by Ryan Stone via Unsplash

The fine for animal cruelty in Sri Lanka is Rs. 100, which translates to 50 cents American. How did we get here?

Familiar headlines

Just a few days ago, a black leopard was killed in Sri Lanka after it was trapped in a hunter’s snare. Tragic I know. But it’s not news. It happens too often to be considered news.

Guess what. Just earlier today, hours after the death of the leopard, a second leopard was found trapped in a snare. The guy was rescued by wildlife officers. Here’s to hoping he does a full recovery.

We shared the news around a lot. A lot of us were mad, as always. To quote a local news article, “It sparked outrage in the island”. So much for the outrage. It all falls on deaf ears at the end of the day. It’s not about a lack of voice for the voiceless, it's about not giving a fuck about it.

But good news…

Our wildlife minister immediately said in a statement that they will ensure the law against those who set-up snares to trap animals will be enforced on them.

Great, that guy now has to pay a full 100 rupees. That’ll teach em!

The 100-year-old bill

The bill that protects the animals in Sri Lanka was passed in 1907 and has never been updated. The bill that protects our animals is more than 100 years old. Just let that sink in.

There were proposed drafts that were accepted by the cabinet, but they never took off. It’s difficult to understand what the ulterior motive is behind not passing it, maybe we’ll never know.

Many Asian countries have passed updated animal welfare bills in the recent past. Even China. The country behind the Yulin Dog Festival. The one you signed 100s of petitions against.

Speaking of petitions…

Justice that never came for Charlie

Charlie was a labrador from Negombo who was burnt alive in his outdoor kennel on new year’s eve of 2019. Another horrible but familiar headline to wake up to on new years.

Charlie’s death caused yet another outrage on social media. This time it was different. People were more vocal than ever. The incident was featured in the news. We even took to the streets.

people rallying for animal rights
people rallying for animal rights

You might think the outcome would be different this time. Even some liberal politicians were pretty vocal about it. But again, it stopped at the draft. Charlie was forgotten and the evil low life who set him on fire is walking around, prowling for its next victim.

If not now, when?

So many governments have changed. We have had revolutionaries who brought upon “yahapalanaya” to the country. Technocrats who changed the landscape of Sri Lankan politics. But one thing they all have in common is the fact that they don’t give a fuck about our animals.

I don’t know when we will start practicing the “Buddhist values” we try so hard to preserve. But its high time we take matters into our own hands and help our friends without a voice.

Here’s a list of animal welfare projects that protect animals in Sri Lanka:

Update: Toward the end of finishing this article, it was reported that the second leopard has also succumbed to his injuries

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