Speeding jeep kills jungle cat


A jungle cat was killed by a hit-and-run Jeep in the Yala National Park early morning on June 26. The incident occurred near Gonalabba and Madapara.

Attempts to save the wild cat proved futile. Pic by Hansa Premakumara

Eyewitness Hansa Premakumara, who sent in the photograph of the dead animal, said the safari jeep was being driven at high speed. He recognized a tracker among the passengers in the Jeep, which did not even stop after hitting the jungle cat. Mr. Premakumara and others with him made a desperate but futile attempt to save the animal, which was writhing in agony.

Another Jeep that was following the hit-and-run Jeep stopped, and the driver got out and pleaded with Mr. Premakumar not to tell authorities, saying the drivers and trackers in both Jeeps would lose their jobs. However, the incident was reported to the park warden, and park officials have taken the driver of the first Jeep into custody.

The driver is to appear in court on a charge of irresponsible driving inside the park.
Independent Jeep Drivers’ Association secretary Tharindu Jayasinghe denied that the Jeep belonged to the association. In association with the Lakdasun Conservation Forum, the organisation recently conducted a workshop on responsible driving for Jeep drivers.
Sri Lanka’s safari drivers and trackers do not have a shining track record, and are frequently blamed for tarnishing the country’s wildlife tourism image.

The Jeep driver in custody already has a reputation for undesirable behaviour. According to sources, a few weeks back he was seen throwing a stone at a sleeping leopard in order create photo opportunities for the party of tourists he was accompanying.

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