Young junior minister rescues another calf elephant from illegal captors


Deputy Sports and Tourism Minister Wasantha Senanayake holds a dossier on elephants in captivity

By Ifham Nizam 

In less than 48 hours of taking into custody a baby elephant kept in a Temple at Polhengoda, Sports and Tourism Deputy Minister Wasantha Senanayake joined hands with the Wildlife Department to rescue another three-year-old elephant at Pelmadulla yesterday. 

He told The Island that anybody keeping elephants illegally should surrender them to the wildlife authorities as soon as possible. He assured that the culprits would not be punished if the animals had been looked after well. If the detection was made by the Department they would be prosecuted, he warned.

Speaking about the baby elephant rescued from Pelmadulla, he said like in the previous case there were no papers to prove ownership and the wildlife official were trying to ascertain how the poor animal had been brought there.

On Wednesday evening a two-and a-half-year-old elephant calf was found inside Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera’s Alan Mathiniyaramaya Temple at Polhengoda

Another 20-year-old female elephant had also been kept at the temple.

The raid was conducted on the instructions of Deputy Minister Wasantha Senanayake, who himself arrived at the scene, accompanied by wildlife officials and the police after receiving a tip-off that an elephant was being kept within the temple premises illegally.

The Minister asked for legal documents proving the ownership of the elephant from the chief incumbent of the temple only to be told that there were none. The Thera said that he would give them the licence as soon as he found it.

Senanayake said the elephants hadbeen taken to the Wildlife Department by the officials and they would take the necessary steps to release them into the jungle.

Statements had been recorded from several people including the Grama Sevaka of the area, a mahout who had looked after the pachyderms as well as several others.

Legal documents could be obtained to keep baby elephants more than six-years-old, but keeping calves below that age was illegal, wildlife officials said.

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