Lankan reptiles not for export or exploitation, says environmentalist

The export of reptiles is illegal, according to a leading environmentalist who was referring to a 14-member team from Germany that is in the country to explore the possibility of breeding reptiles in Sri Lanka for export.

The team from Germany includes experts in the breeding and marketing of reptiles and ornamental tropical fish. According to lawyer and environmentalist Jagath Gunawardena, all but five Sri Lankan reptiles are protected by the law. “You cannot breed or export protected reptile species for commercial purposes,” he told the Sunday Times. “You may do so only for scientific or conservation purposes,” he said, quoting the Fauna and Flora Act.

“If the team from Germany is to go ahead with their project, they will either have to bypass the law or the government will have to amend the law. Amending the Fauna and Flora Act will only have negative repercussions,” he added. A source at the Export Development Board (EDB) said the German delegates were interested in setting up reptile farms here in order to breed reptiles for export to markets in the European Union (EU).

According to the EDB source, Sri Lanka stood to gain if the Germans were to enter into a commercial agreement with the government.

“Sri Lanka will increase its market share in ornamental fish in international markets,” he said, “while getting German expertise in the scientific breeding of non-venomous reptile species for the EU market.”

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