More political intrigue as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister allegedly has Wildlife Chief fired for doing his job

Nirmala Kannangara | Published on August 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

In a shocking turn of events following allegations of criminal activity against a highly connected government minister,

A picture of the leopard skin now under scrutiny

Director General of the Wildlife Conservation Department (WLCD) Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja has been removed from the WLCD with effect from yesterday (August 1).

According to highly placed sources from the WLCD who spoke on conditions of anonymity in fear for their own jobs, it was allegedly Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne who was directly involved with having Dr. Pathiraja’s removed from his post.

Prime minister had him removed allege staff

“Our DG was removed not for any other reason but because he wanted to hold an impartial inquiry into the leopard skin fiasco whose offender is Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister the son in law of Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne. It is Jayaratne who has ordered the removal of Dr. Pathiraja,” sources said.

Lanka Independent reliably learns that Dr. Pathiraja has given his fullest support to the WLCD flying squad unit to hold an unbiased investigation and to take legal actions against the law breakers.

As we reported in our first article the ball was set rolling after Duminda Dissanayake a young and highly connected government minister allegedly used his influence to avoid criminal charges after being found with a leopard skin in his residence.

Duminda Dissanayake, Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development is the son of the Chief Minister of the North Central Province Berty Premalal Dissanayake and the son in law of Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne. In June Dissanayake was found in possession of a leopard skin during a raid by wild life officials on his luxury residence at Havelock road.

In a country that is unbelievably politicised and where impunity reigns supreme such connections would give Dissanayake

Minister Duminda Dissanayake

unlimited power and he did not hesitate to use it to flout the law of the land.

Scared to speak out

“Minister Agrarian Services and Wild Life S.M. Chandrasiri has instructed Dr. Pathiraja not to take action against Duminda Dissanayake. He has assured that the leopard skin would be hand over to the WLCD the following day although it has never happened up to now –for well over one month. We have learnt that this order has come from none other than the Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne in order to prevent any investigations being carried out against the criminal who is his son in law (daughter’s husband),” alleged top sources from the Wildlife department too scared now to speak out in public.

Prime Minister will not talk

Although Lanka Independent left several messages with the Prime Minister’s personal staff requesting the need to get a comment in regard to the allegations leveled against Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne, he (Prime Minister) did not respond to the requests.

Pathiraja dumbfounded

Family members of newly sworn in Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne worship President Mahinda Rajapakse after the swearing in ceremony in April 2010. Son-in-law Duminda Dissanayake (standing far left) is also in the picture. Photo by Chandana Perera taken from

Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja when contacted said that he would wish to remain silent without manking any comment to the media.

“There is no necessity for me to give any comments. I would wish to remain silent,” he added.

However Minister Agrarian Services and Wild Life S.M. Chandrasiri refuting the allegations told the Lanka Independent that he has never interfered with the work of the Wildlife Conservation Department at any time.

Baseless allegations

“I have given the WLCD staff a free hand to carry out their duties. Although I knew that a raid has been carried out to unearth a leopard skin, I did not know that Minister Duninda Dissanayake’s name has been dragged into this. These are baseless allegations and there are no such accusations against a government minister,” he added.

When asked as to whether Director General Dr. C. Pathiraja was removed on the instructions of the Prime Minister, Minister Chandrasena once again denied the allegations.

I removed him, not the PM

“I removed him as I wanted to put the senior most officer in the Scientific Service in the WLCD, H.D. Ratnayake. Pathiraja was a political appointee and is a Director General Economic Development Ministry. I was not instructed by any one but it was I who did the change in order to appoint one of our own senior staff members as the Director General WLCD,” said the Minister.

Strictly protected

The Sri Lankan leopard is an endangered species and a strictly protected animal under the law. In a country that has seen a lot of ugly in the recent past its wildlife is one of the more beauteous aspects. But the leopard population is declining due to numerous threats including poaching for trade and human-leopard conflicts.

Sri Lanka’s wildlife including its leopard is a huge tourist attraction and there is an irony for a government minister in agovernment that now eschews accountability in favour of development and tourism, a minister in a government that professes Buddhist values and yet thinks nothing of  the killing of an endangered animal so that he could allegedly use the skin as a rug to be trampled on.

It’s a crime

While Sri Lanka has laws in place to deal with illegal poaching and killing of some animals it is unlikely that in the present environment of impunity any of these laws would be worth the paper they are written on. Be that as it may a person can be charged under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance for being in possession of or for having a part of a strictly protected animal.

According to section 30 of the Ordinance, to keep in one’s possession a protected or a strictly protected animal or a part of it is a non-bailable offence.
















5 Comments to “More political intrigue as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister allegedly has Wildlife Chief fired for doing his job”

  • Yes Pathiraja can come out with every thing but the next moment a white van would be there to greet him.

    That is why this is called banana republic. More to follow.

    Now the idiotic people have given local authority powers to these rouges. Lets wait and see as to what happen next.

  • Mr. T.Silva, Don’t you realize that Mr.Pathiraja’s own responsibility to protec his own life against this brutal society.

  • So why doesn’t pathiraja come out and say it without being silent. Only he knows the truth. If he stays silent it can be inferred that MInister chandrasiri is right and that the prime minister had nothing to do with this.Upto Pathiraja to tell us the truth or does he prefer to have rumours floated to hide something else

  • Yes but nothing will happen. THe impunity has gone too far they are now able to do anything .

  • another good piece of reporting from Nirmala. keep following the story


Leopard skin duminda story

More political intrigue as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister allegedly has Wildlife Chief fired for doing his job

In a shocking turn of events following allegations of criminal activity against a highly connected government minister, A picture of the leopard skin now under scrutiny Director ...