The Sunday Leader

Pinnawala Elephants To Be Given Away

By Nirmala Kannangara

The Zoological Department has come under severe criticism for arranging to release 19 tame elephants from the Pinnawala elephant orphanage to private parties.
Out of the 94 elephants at Pinnawala, 16 males and 3 females have been earmarked to be given away to temples and devalayas in the country that support the government, reliable sources from the Zoological Department and Pinnawala elephant orphanage told The Sunday Leader on the basis of anonymity.
The 16 male elephants are named Neela, Megha, Weera (alias Kandula 2) Suranimala, Rangiri, Bibile (alias Kandula 3) Sanka, Jayatu, Nandimitra, Arjuna (alias Kandula 6) Mihindu, Buwaneka, Pinnawala, Wasana, Haritha and Atlas. Sama, Ramya and Lasanda are the three female elephants that have been earmarked to be given away to ‘government friends’ the sources alleged.
They questioned why the Zoological Department had earmarked breeding elephants (which show more resistance to illness) to be given away, rather than the weaker inbred elephants. The 19 elephants chosen were all bred in the wild and were strong, the sources noted.
They added that they had proof to show that these elephants were being given to those who supported the Rajapaksa administration. It was pointed out that the present Zoological Director is a close associate of the Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa.
“Amongst the many prospective parties that are to be benefited are Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero and Ven. Kolonnawe Sumangala Thero,” claimed the sources.
Refuting the allegations, the Director of the Zoological Department Baswara Gunaratne said that he had received cabinet approval to hand over 15 elephants to private parties, in order to reduce the density at Pinnawala orphanage. Gunaratne said that the Department would see whether the prospective owners are financially able to maintain the elephant in addition to other tests for eligibility.
He added that the Department wanted to give elephants to temples and devalayas to use in cultural activities.
“Other than that there are no secret dealings behind this,” said Gunaratne.
All attempts to contact Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero for a comment failed.

9 Comments for “Pinnawala Elephants To Be Given Away”

  1. Aru

    What can you expect when Basil’s cronies oversee the management of an elephant orphanage. No the Rajapaksa & Co are messing around with elephants as well. Alinta Anicchchawatha Sankara.

  2. Tharindu Muthukumarana

    The elephants can not be let to suffer after giving the to privates. Tharindu Muthukumarana.

  3. Is there a deep cultural attachment to elephants then just entertainment and amusement in this country?

  4. This is really really a bad move! Why these government Ambaruwas want to give these innocents for their filthy political motives?

  5. Tory Braden

    I never thought I would visit Cambodia, but the sanctuary there, Elephant Valley Project, gets my money. In the same vein, I will NOT visit Sri Lanka as long as such lack of conscious and hostility exists towards its own elephants. To move them to a life of wretched confinement, especially the ignorant way they are treated at temples, is not just lame brain, it is heartless.

  6. Terry Young

    I am a flight attendant.. I will not visit Sri Lanka either when such awful decisions are made by those in government.

  7. Tory Braden

    Have tweeted this lame brained decision and will encourage others to boycott Sri Lanka for such ignorant treatment of their elephants.

  8. Ben

    I’m Sri Lankan…Some places in the world are beyond help..Its like even the very gods who created these places have given up on them…There is nothing more dangerous than power in the hands of uneducated, selfish people.

  9. Rebecca

    Tory/ Terry – I am involved in animal welfare activities in SL and can tell you that the only way to bring about change is to show that this kind of decision and animal cruelty in general will have a direct effect on tourism. The government now sees tourism as the main revenue maker and anything that affects it will be taken seriously. If you could do all you can to promote SL as a country with little or no regard for animal welfare and if many tourist can write on Giv sites/ email to say what you have said here it will help change decisions such as these.

    A few months back the minister for tourism stated that we must do everything possible to INCREASE elephant rides in SL. This would result in many wild elephants being captured and trained for this purpose. If tourist (who are the main targets in this business) boycott these rides (which majority would do if they were aware of what went on behind the scenes to make it possible) this business will come to a complete stand still.

    Thank you for all your work in this regard together we can make a change no matter how small

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