Sri Lanka wildlife minister demands action against elephant mistreatment

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development and Wildlife Minister John Amaratunga said that he has demanded action against those responsible for including the skeletal elderly elephant Tikiri in the annual Esala Perahera festival.

"I have noted with concern media reports of a 70-year old elephant named Tikiri that has been used in the Esala Perahera while her health condition, according to published photographs, appears to be bad," he said in a statement.
 
"I have been informed that the elephant had collapsed," he said, wishing the animal to recover soon.
 
"I have ordered officials of my ministry to initiate an inquiry into this matter to ascertain how and why an elephant in such poor health was used in the perahera and to take necessary action against those responsible for this."
 
“We must take every possible step to ensure an incident of this nature does not occur again,” Amaratunga said.
 
Tikiri had been paraded for several kilometres during the festival, but was covered in a costume which had hidden her condition from spectators.
 
The elephant was withdrawn from the final day of the 10-day pageant after an uproar in social media against mistreatment of the animal.
 
The festival uses more than 100 tamed elephants. Some rich families in Sri Lanka keep elephants as pets, and are criticized by animal rights activists for mistreatment and animal cruelty.
 
Amaratunga said that he has instructed veterinary surgeons of the Wildlife Conservation Department to immediately inspect Tikiri and recommend treatments to the elephant’s owner.
 
The minister also said that he has instructed department officials to reinstate the work that an expert committee had conducted in 2015-2016.
 
The committee had prepared a guideline for owners of captive elephants on ensuring the animals’ health conditions are well taken care of.
 
“These guidelines will be reviewed by an expert committee already appointed by me to look into developing mitigation measures for Human Elephant Conflict (HEC), and finalizes for implementation as soon as possible.”
 
Meanwhile, the ministry has also appointed a team of veterinary surgeons from both Department of Wildlife Conservation and Department of Zoological Gardens to investigate and report health conditions of all elephants in captivity. (Colombo/ 16 Aug/2019)