Sri Lanka arrests 2 men for torturing sea eagle after photos showing bird being skinned alive go viral

Sri Lankan police arrested two men for torturing a sea eagle after pictures on social media shows the bird being skinned alive.
Sri Lankan police arrested two men for torturing a sea eagle after pictures on social media shows the bird being skinned alive. PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan police on Thursday (March 10) arrested two men for torturing a sea eagle after pictures on social media showed the endangered bird being skinned alive and its legs cut off.

Police at the beach resort of Habaraduwa, 130km south of the capital Colombo, made the arrests after a public outcry over the photos, which were published on Facebook and in local newspapers.

"Our intelligence unit was able to track down some of the men involved," Habaraduwa police chief Udaya Kumara said by telephone. "We arrested two and we are looking for another three who were in the photos."

Photos showed a group of men watching the bird being skinned by at least one man with a knife, while another filmed the incident on a mobile phone.

Inspector Kumara said the pair were being charged under Sri Lanka's flora and fauna act and could be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted.

Eagles are regarded as a "highly protected" species under the country's strict conservation laws.

The arrests came a day after a magistrate in Colombo remanded a Buddhist monk in custody on a charge of illegally keeping a two-year-old baby elephant at his temple.

Elephants are considered sacred in Sri Lanka.