Capturing calf elephants and selling them has been going on for several years. That is forgotten by the public now. But, the threat to baby jumbos in the wild persists.The most recent incident was reported from Yala National Park. Acting on a tip off, Kataragama police and wildlife officers went to ‘Demala Totupala’ on the 07th that a baby elephant was tethered there. But, they found none. In the meantime, wildlife officers were informed by a resident of Menikpuragama on Kataragama-Situlpawwa road that a calf has come to his home. They collected the animal and took it to Eth Athuru Sevana at Udawalawa.
It is clear this baby elephant was a victim of racketeers. A wound in a leg indicates it had been kept tethered, and it’s having loose motions means it was fed with milk powder, veterinary surgeons suspect.
Fate of its mother?
In most instances, what the racketeers did was to kill the mothers and take the calves away. Wildlife officers suspect the same fate has befallen the mother of this baby elephant. Wildlife director general M.G.C. Suriyabandara has appointed a team, led by western province assistant director of wildlife W.A.D.A. Indrajith to investigate the incident, while Kataragama police investigate separately.
In December last year, wildlife officers found a baby elephant tethered with an iron chain at Hambegamuwa near Udawalawa national park. Another was found in a similar condition at Gonaganara on Buttala-Kataragama road. Within a year, three calf elephants had been found in similar conditions.
Director general Suriyabandara said an investigation led by an experienced officer was underway, and that courts will be informed of the outcome. Investigations are also underway into the two others found at Gonaganara and Hambegamuwa. All these baby elephants have regained health at Eth Athuru Sevana, he said.
Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi - Hambantota