Temples have lost tamed jumbos to tourist resorts - environmentalist

‘95 elephants including 30 tamed ones perished within 3 yrs’



By Maheesha Mudugamuwa


An environmental organisation yesterday alleged that Diyawadana Nilame of Sri Dalada Maligawa Pradeep Nilanga Dela and a group of Buddhist monks were making what he called a false claim that there was a shortage of tamed elephants for Peraheras. They were trying to halt legal actions against the ‘elephant racket,’ Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Director, Sajeewa Chamikara alleged.


He told The Island that the main reason for the shortage of tamed elephants for Peraheras was that they were being used by the tourism industry.


Citing a study conducted by the ECT, Chamikara noted that the majority of tamed elephants were being used in the tourism industry and many had perished as they had not been looked after properly by their owners.


About 55 elephants were used for tourism related activities in Habarana, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandalama and Pinnawala, Chamikara said. In addition around ten elephants were used in the areas of Kandy and Tissamaharama.


Around 25 other elephants were used by tourist centres situated from the Karulapana Junction to Pinnawala. Tourist centres from the Hiriwadunna Junction to Habarana also used elephants, the ECT Director said.


Chamikara claimed that it was illegal for tourist centres to use elephant and the animals were being mistreated and even tortured. They were not used for Peraheras as the owners earned huge sums of money at tourist resorts.


According to the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), 359 elephants had been registered as at August 08, 2013. Of them 94 belonged to the National Zoological Gardens and the Pinnawala Elephants Orphanage. Sixty elephants had perished and another 205 elephants were being kept by the their owners, Chamikara said.


But, as at today, the number of tamed elephants had dropped to 123 as the Diyawadana Nilame of Sri Dalada Maligawa said. As many as 82 tamed elephants had died within three years, Chamikara noted.


A study conducted by ECT had revealed that about 95 wild elephants and 30 tamed ones had perished from 2006 to 2009, he said.


Another reason for the decrease in the number of tamed elephants was that their owners not taking steps to breed them. Only three baby elephants had been born in captivity, he added.


Chamikara urged the government to take steps to put in place a proper mechanism to look after the elephants in the country.


He stressed that it was important to implement the law against those who had kept elephants illegally and hand over the animals in their custody to the DWC.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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