The use of home-mad trap guns for crop protection and livelihood safeguarding and also for poaching is a significant cause of insecurity for farmers and ramblers in Sri Lanka. Preparing a trap gun does not require sophisticated technology. A trap gun is made from a metal pipe with metal pellets and explosives, for example taken from firecrackers, ans using a trip system. Any person or animal that moves past it can trigger it. The trap gun is hardly visible to the naked eye.
Trap guns are widespread in Sri Lanka, they are used by farmers and poachers alike. Each year people get injured, disabled or even killed. Fatal incidents are reported regularly. Until now, no foreigners became victims of trap guns. The numbers of victims are unknown, because many incidents related to trap guns are not reported, particularly if victims were relatives or friends. Most human victims are farmers ans wildlife or forest department officials. But trap guns also put hikers’ health at risk. The problem is most acute in agricultural areas of the Cultural Triangle, the East of the island and Ratnapura district. In the Anuradhapura hospital, 200 trap gun injured patients are treated every year.
Regrettably Sri Lanka’s laws applying to small arms remain insufficient and weakly implemented. Article 17 of the Firearms Ordinance Firearms Ordinance of No. 33 of 1916 states, “No person shall manufacture any gun without a licence from the licence authority.“ According to the law, a farmer is only allowed to possess a licensed fire arm, if he has a minimum of five acres of cultivated land. This is why farmers of smaller land use illegal weapons.
Trap-guns are usually not a problem on popular trekking routes in Sinharaja, Horton Plains and Kunckles Range. However, trekkers should be aware, that there are risks when leaving the trail.
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