The Government says it needs more time to fulfil promises given to the UN human rights body to investigate war crimes allegations from a long civil war that ended seven years ago.Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told foreign correspondents on Tuesday that the government will seek more time at the next U.N human rights session starting on February 27, the Associated Press reported. The U.N. human rights chief had called for a hybrid court with local and international judges. Sri Lanka agreed to the participation of foreign judges before backtracking and now insists on local courts investigating the allegations. Sri Lanka, in a joint resolution in 2015 at the U.N. Human Rights Council, promised to work toward ethnic reconciliation, which includes investigating alleged abuses.
Grouse moors owners have hit back at claims that shoots harm wildlife by commissioning a report showing rare birds are thriving on their land.Last week Chris Packham called for an end to grouse shooting labelling the sport ‘moorland vandalism’ and criticised gamekeepers for killing hen harriers – Britain’s rarest bird of prey – to prevent them from eating chicks.The RSPB also claims that intensive land management practices, such as burning and drainage of peatlands, tracks and the use of veterinary medicines and killing of mountain hares to reduce the incidence of disease in grouse, harm wildlife.But a new study commissioned by a dozen grouse moors, and undertaken by Newcastle and Durham Universities which surveyed 18 moorland estates across England and Scotland between April and June this year, found some birds were flourishing.It found 76 bird species on the grouse moors including 43 endangered ones. In their preliminary results the researchers found equal numbers of birds of prey and owls where gamekeepers were most active compared with least active. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Jeff Knott, the RSPB’s Head of Nature Policy said, “This grouse moor funded report tells us what we’ve known for some time. Grouse moors are good for grouse.“Some other ground-nesting species benefit indirectly whilst others do not. Most notably hen harriers, which are completely absent. The fact that the killing of predators reduces predation is hardly ground-breaking.“The RSPB seeks a more balanced future for the uplands where grouse, birds of prey, mountain hares and people can all co-exist and where unsustainable management practices often carried out on intensive grouse moors, such as the illegal killing of hen harriers, are consigned to the past.” Chris Packham and the RSPB claim gamekeepers kill hen harriers to protect chicks and damage the land Credit:Graeme Hart The hen harrier is Britain’s most endangered bird of prey Credit:PA They also found that skylark were 32 per cent more prolific with intensive gamekeeper protection and there were six times as many curlew and eight times as many golden plover on sites with highly intensive predator control than on areas with hardly any control.Curlew are so endangered in Britain that RSPB scientists have said they should be “considered the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species.”The researchers found twenty-four times as many lapwing on the intensive sites with hardly any seen where gamekeepers were not active.Snipe and oyster catchers were also much more prolific when protected from predators like foxes, stoats and crows.In conclusion, first author Dr Nick Littlewood, of the School of Biology at Newcastle University, said: “The preliminary results indicate the importance of grouse moors for a number of upland birds, especially waders.” However the report did not look into hen harrier numbers, and conservationists say that grouse shooting is directly contributing to the rapid fall in numbers. There are just four breeding pairs left in England.