Baby jumbo case before Supreme Court

Sagarika Rajakarunanayake of the ‘Sathva Mithra’ organisation has filed a petition in the Supreme Court, that two baby elephants under the age of three years had been virtually abducted from the Pinnawela elephant orphanage and taken into the custody of the Diyawadana Nilame, Kandy.

The petition said that Article 9 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka states that Buddhism is the State Religion and it condemns cruelty to animals. These two male baby tuskers had been separated from their mothers, while they were still dependent on mother’s milk. Such cruelty to animals by persons holding such high office as Diyawadana Nilame, will encourage lesser mortals to resort to similar cruelty to animals.

The cruelty imposed on these two baby elephants cause immense pain of mind to all animal lovers. Bordering on mental fortune. The petitioner appealed that the Supreme Court issue an interim order, directing the Kandy Magistrate to seek the assistance vet surgeons, and verify the health condition of the two baby elephants.

The petitioner also requested the Court to direct, the Diyawadana Nilame, Dela Bandara and other respondents, to send the two elephants back to the Pinnawela farm, from their place of present custody, at the premises of Dela Bandara and to direct the Director of the National Zoological Gardens, Dehiwala and the Director of Wild Life, to draft guidelines for removal of elephants to be used for peraheras.

Among the respondents cited are Gamini Lokuge, Minister of Sports and Recreation, "Director of the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens. The Director of Wild Life Conservation, and the Diyawadana Nilame, Nilange Dela Bandara.

The petition said that the petitioner had first got to know about this misdeed of the Diyawadana Nilama and his associates by reading reports in "The Island" and "Divaina" newspaper. Thereafter the petitioner and other animal lovers pursued the matter. Meanwhile two other young elephants aged over three years had been recently posted to Armenia and Iran, where the climatic conditions are not suitable for elephants.

The petition said that Cabinet approval would have been sought for the taking away of elephants for cultural pageants. But, baby elephants, fed on mother’s milk, are not separated from their mothers. Older elephants only could be taken away for such purposes.

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