Baby tuskers separated from mothers injure themselves

One of the two baby tuskers forcibly taken out of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage from their mothers has broken a tusk and the other is also injured.

Sources said yesterday that when the baby elephants were taken into Diyawadana Nilame Niranjan Dela Bandara's residence they were kept in a garage, where one of them charged at the motor cycle and destroyed it.

Meanwhile, a senior official at the Department of Wildlife yesterday said they had not authorised the removal of the two elephants from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

Environment Lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said elephants legally came under the Department of Wildlife and to transfer them other than to the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwela and Pinnawala approval had to be obtained from the Department of Wildlife.

He said that if they had not obtained a permit from the Wildlife Department, the process would be considered illegal.

Gunawardena said depriving the young of mother's milk could be termed cruelty under the Animal Ordinance Section 3 and 4.

Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust Managing Trustee Wildlife and Elephant Expert Jayantha Jayewardene told The Island that if Pinnawala wanted to release animals, it should be done after elephants reached the right age.

He said they must be weaned carefully and trained before being removed. Training baby elephants get from their mothers was very essential and when they started taking solid food, he said.

Baby elephants must be taken care of by experienced mahouts and veterinary surgeons and if the animals are released ad hoc basis, they would become trouble makers, Jayewardene said.

A senior official at the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwela, yesterday said according to the Zoo Director Board no animal under the age of five years should be handed over to outsiders.

Meanwhile, an official at Pinnawala said the mother elephants were still crying and they were also slightly injured following brutal separation their babies.

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