Sri Lanka returns stolen elephants to captors

Colombo – Two Sri Lankan elephant properties have returned 13 of the younger animals stolen from wildlife parks again to their alleged captors following a court docket order, officers mentioned Friday. Elephants are thought-about sacred in Sri Lanka and their seize within the wild is unlawful, however many individuals personal the animals underneath particular permits as an emblem of wealth. Legal investigators in 2015 seized not less than 13 child elephants stolen from wildlife parks, together with by a Buddhist monk. However in a controversial twist this week, the police Legal Investigations Division secured an order from a Colombo court docket to return them to the alleged captors. The CID informed the court docket that new rules on tamed elephants allowed house owners to register their pets with wildlife authorities.

Six elephants have been taken away from the Pinnawala orphanage chained up and moved in vans, whereas one other seven have been returned from a house within the south of the island. One other elephant {that a} court docket mentioned was given by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the orphanage six years in the past was additionally returned.

Rajapaksa despatched two child elephants to the orphanage in January 2015, earlier than he was head of state, reportedly saying he couldn’t afford to keep up them.

One feminine, Charika, was returned to the president’s custody on Thursday, however a second, Charaka, stays at Pinnawala, an official informed AFP. Asian elephant skilled Jayantha Jayewardene mentioned he was appalled by the return of the stolen elephants, describing it as a “jumbo step again for animal welfare”. “I’m very disenchanted,” Jayewardene informed AFP. “This can solely encourage the unlawful seize of child elephants from our nationwide parks.”

The switch of the elephants from Pinnawala, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Colombo, was an “emotional second” for his or her carers, an official mentioned.

“These animals are usually not used to travelling by truck they usually have been very reluctant to get into the automobiles,” they mentioned. 

The return of the animals from the orphanage comes just some weeks after it introduced a uncommon beginning of elephant twins in August — the primary in Sri Lanka in 80 years. Jayewardene mentioned about 40 calves might have been stolen from herds throughout a 10-year interval as much as 2015 and bought for about $125,000 every. Poachers often kill the mom to grab the younger, he added. 

A 2011 survey confirmed Sri Lanka had 7,379 elephants residing within the wild, together with about 1,100 infants. There have been 12,000 elephants in 1900.

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