President moved by elephants’ suffering
Baby jumbos to be reunited with mothers
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided that two baby elephants Diyawadana Nilame of Sri Dalada Maligawa forcibly brought to Kandy last Saturday from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage be returned to their mothers, according to highly placed sources.
The President had taken serious note of media reports on severe suffering inflicted on the elephant calves and their mothers faced with a serious health risk as milk was clotting in their breasts and the presidential decision would be conveyed to the Sri Dalada Maligawa authorities shortly, sources said.
A group including police personnel led by Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dele separated the baby elephants from their mothers after a struggle and brought the calves to Kandy, though the law requires that only claves over five years of age be removed from their mothers. Both elephants are below five years. However, the Cabinet at the request of Minister of Sports and Recreation Gamini Lokuge had granted permission for two claves to be gifted to Sri Dalada Maligawa presumably oblivious to the legal requirement at issue and the fact that they had not yet been weaned from breastfeeding. The Wildlife Department under whose purview elephants come had not authorized the separation of the baby elephants on Saturday, sources said.
The Young Zoologists Association on Wednesday charged that the two baby elephants were being beaten with poles by their keepers as they had turned aggressive deprived of mother’s milk and care. Their mothers are pining in Pinnawala.