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Nearly 108 elephants with private owners

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By Ifham Nizam

About 108 elephants are being raised by private owners by the end of 2021, a research study in the Journal of the Asian Elephant Specialists Group has said.The survey was carried out by elephant-scientist Tharindu Muthukumarana of the Elephant Conservation Organization (ECO).Muthukumarana told The Island that this survey did not include elephants from orphanages, zoos, etc. In Sri Lanka, censuses on captive elephants have been carried out since 1946. Nine such surveys have been conducted apart from this year’s survey that conservationists consider controversial.

Muthukumarana said that in 2021 a total of 108 elephants were being raised in captivity; they consisted of 72 males and 36 females. Among males there were 18 tuskers. There were also 72 elephant owners in the country. The captive elephants can be found in the following 12 districts; Badulla – 6, Colombo – 18, Gampaha -16, Hambantota – 1, Kalutara – 7, Kandy – 18, Kegalle – 14, Kurunegala – 7, Matara – 5, Moneragala – 5, Polonnaruwa -1 and Ratnapura – 10.

Muthukumarana said that the highest number of elephants (12) were owned by Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple in Kandy. He said of the 18 tuskers, 11 were gifted to Sri Lanka by foreign countries––three from India, five from Myanmar and three from Thailand.He said only two calves were born to privately-owned captive elephants.

One of them was a female elephant named Pooja born on 5 August 1986 to a female named Lakshmi, owned by someone from Kegalle.The other was a male elephant named Bandara born on 13 October 1992 to a female named Kumari.



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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