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A sad stillbirth of elephant twins in Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s wildlife authorities have found the carcasses of stillborn elephant twins in north-central Sri Lanka months after rejoicing over the extremely rare birth of healthy twins.

The veterinary chief in Welikanda in the Polonnaruwa district, Samira Kalingaarachchi, said they discovered the stillborns over the weekend at a protected forest in Mahasenpura, 215 kilometres (135 miles) north-east of Colombo.

“We suspect that the birth occurred while the herd was transitting through the area at the onset of the monsoon,” Kalingaarachchi said.

“We tried, but couldn’t find the cow elephant or its herd. They had left the area. We carried out an autopsy to establish it was a stillbirth.”

The discovery came about four months after the authorities confirmed that a pair of baby elephants feeding on the same mother spotted in the nearby Minneriya national park in July were twins.

Twins among Asian elephants are considered extremely rare although it is more prevalent among African elephants.

Wildlife officials have also recorded what they believe to be another stillbirth of twins two years ago in the same province.

Elephants are considered a national treasure and protected by law, yet more than 600 of the sacred animal have been killed since the beginning of last year, many by farmers after the pachyderms stray onto their lands.

Nearly 200 people have also been killed by wild elephants in the same period.

The country’s elephant population has declined to just over 7,000 according to the latest census, down from an estimated 12,000 in the early 1900s. (COLOMBO, November 9, 2020-sb)

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