Monday, July 18, 2011

Foxes, lions, tigers and elephants -- Sri Lanka exports anacondas

Stewart Elephanpakse

(NB: This was eventually published in the Sri Lanka Guardian on 27th July, 2011)

(Unpublished) There is a strange combination of animal affairs in the Sri Lankan press today (July 11) but I suppose this is only natural in a country that imports camels. (Caligula and Rajapakse -- Horses and Camels by Stewart Rajapakse -- Sri Lanka Guardian January 26, 2011)
First we have the story that Liam Fox paid a visit to Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka's self-styled lion. Fox almost certainly didn't say what Mahinda wanted to hear when he called for freedom of expression, accountability and positive attitudes. Only one of these would have been really welcomed by Mahinda, the call for positive attitudes, because we can all be certain that if Mahinda is positive about anything it's the speed with which he plans to consolidate his hold over the people he is supposed to be protecting. Then of course Fox really put his paw in his mouth when he said that he was looking forward to the publication of the LLRC report in November this year. Sadly this doesn't say much for Liam because anyone believing in the credibility of the LLRC report has obviously been outfoxed by Mahinda and his brothers.

Then we have the article about how Sri Lanka is going to trade anacondas for tigers (the furry kind, not the terrorist type). One might think that there is something ironic about a country that exports anacondas. But then, if we consider that the country is exporting a disgraced Inspector General of Police as the Ambassador to Brazil and has already exported a military officer suspected of war crimes to the United Nations, perhaps this is not so strange.

Then there is the news that Sri Lanka will have to import tuskers ('elephants', for those that are unfamiliar with the term) from India for the Perheras. Sri Lanka used to have more elephants than you could shake a stick at; unfortunately it was decided that they were not as important as everyone thought they were and now when one of them dies it is the people that mourn them, not the government. The thought springs to mind that they should have looked after the ones they had a bit better. Apparently however, there are plenty of them available because the government, in the form of the Wildlife Conservation Department Director General Dr Chandrawansa Pathiraja, has emphasised that no elephants in the South will be relocated due to the construction of an airport runway or for the proposed Games City in Hambantota. Hmmm, whenever a representative of the Rajapakse government categorically announces that something is not going to happen I always think it's time to start worrying. If I was an elephant I'd start packing my trunk. And that reminds me of an old story; what is gray, has four legs, a head, a tail and a trunk?

Why, a mouse going on holiday of course!

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