Show Maithree to elephants


When the British came to this country, they noticed there were many elephants in many parts of the island. One Englishman, who boasted that he had killed more elephants than anybody else before, was in the habit of going on horseback and one fine day at the Haputale Anglican Church premises he was stuck by lighting. That was how Nature responded to his cruelty.

After Independence, there was an elephant kraal in Panamure. The leader of the herd was a majestic creature who could no longer tolerate this, charged to stop it; the gunmen aimed straight on its head. The photograph of this tragedy should be available on the YouTube. It appeared in every newspaper. The SLBC in its archives has the song "Panamure Ath Raja."

To add insult to injury, an Englishman kept his foot on the dead elephant and asked the photographer to take his picture. It is customarily for a hunter to place his foot on the dead animal and pose for a photograph. Fortunately, Sir John Kotelawala who happened to see this shouted, "Take that dirty leg away from the king of the jungle, you dirty bastard." It is distressing to note that in a key Buddhist country like Sri Lanka, where loving kindness or Maithree is preached morning, noon and night, the monks have not given up the practice of chaining elephants and using them in Peraheras.

Every now and then we hear of such elephants groaning in pain. But the craze has not diminished.

Elephants should be in the jungles and not inside the four walls of a temple. Not very long ago, the chief incumbent of the Bellanwila temple was struck by a baby elephant he was feeding. The result was the death of the monk.

There was another Buddhist monk seen playing with another baby elephant, and there is a case against him for possessing the animal. His excuse is that someone has left it in his temple premises without his knowledge.

If the government cannot stop the exploitation of the elephants by religious bodies, it is high time that the masses used their Jana Balaya to protest against such cruelty. It was only a couple of days ago that a chained elephant at Devinuwara Devala was discovered suffering in pain due to a badly infected leg caused by the iron chains.

Dr. Rishani Gunasinghe has started to canvass public opinion against the inhuman conditions under which Bandula, the elephant chained at the Dehiwala zoo, has suffering for the last 66 years.

The response to this petition so far has been heartwarming. One person who has signed this petition already says "I have seen Bandula chained in the same enclosure every time I visited the zoo."

I hope that this petition which has so far obtained the signatures of so many thousands of animal lovers will not fall on the deaf ears of our rulers.

Hakka Patas, which is a homemade explosive of our villagers to kill wild boar has claimed the lives of so many elephants, too. We are quick in passing laws in parliament to punish those who are carrying out minor offences. When it comes to such a crime like chaining elephants for peraheras or using Hakka Patas, there is no law sufficient to act as a deterrent. Must we endure this kind of utmost cruelty to animals in this country or use our energies to draw the attention of those responsible. I hope that Sri Lanka will not be labeled as the cruelest country to elephants?




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