Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Prestige of the Temple should not be complicated with the rights of Wild Elephants

Wild Elephants

The knowledge we gain every day, and we are still learning, about the behavior and social habits of Elephants in the wild, have convinced us beyond reasonable doubt that it is plain WRONG to capture baby elephants in the wild FOR WHATEVER REASON. Orphans sans mothers, found must be rehabilitated!

I do not believe there should be a debate about that simple fact anymore, no matter who you represent.

Then we come to the question of the illegally captured elephants, perhaps 55 of them currently identified, that have had false licenses given, and transactions made with many wealthy buyers, knowingly or not (as to them being illegally captured) purchasing them for millions. As I write, Thilina Gamage, a Magistrate with a questionable reputation, is being questioned about the legitimacy of an elephant found in his possession, which he maintains was purchased on an arm’s length transaction, along with all the required paperwork.

Then we come to the decision of Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya of the Hulftsdorp  Court No 1, who permitted a RETURN of these very same illegally captured, and then found with false papers, and confiscated Elephants, back to their former owners, on the hilarious argument of the Lawyer representing the buyers, that they are needed for Pereharas around the Country!

Elephants are NOT chattels you play political football with! So a stay order of this decision was made, on the grounds that the order itself was plain wrong, but Mr Pilapitiya is sticking by it, as he seems to have the backing of Temples for his ruling, and he can hide under their cloaks, and obtain PIN for his actions.

In this melee, the Director of Wildlife Conservation, an elephant expert himself, unable to stomach these politically motivated actions, is threatening to resign, putting in jeopardy the whole wildlife conservation, and welfare and treatment of animals in Sri Lanka, which he has undertaken to protect. It is believed that ONLY he can stand up for the rights, over objections that don’t stand up in a Court of Law or in the Court of Morality. Only he has the knowledge, and his will cannot be traded for PIN money.

The President, fearing he may offend the Buddhist Clergy, is vacillating on this issue, and making even more absurd statements such as bringing down elephants from Myanmar to fill the shortage of them in Temples, a complete mockery of the principles being implemented. 

This has given more blessings to Gihan Pilapitiya’s actions, making Dr Sumith Pilapitiya the Director General of Wildlife Conservation, red-faced and ready to throw in the towel! 

I purposely avoided calling this the BATTLE OF THE PILAPITIYAS 


Anonymous said...

It is time someone researched the whole aspect of Elephants in Pereharas during the Kingdoms.

Take out the period during British Rule, because we know about that, as they used Kraals to capture elephants as they had a policy of using “surplus” elephants for work, and private landowners with British Given Titles, acquired them, including the Senanayakes and Bandaranayakes who had Elephants, that doubled up as work horses and Perehara Elephants for temples. It was a status symbol of the wealthy, which the present day wealthy decided to emulate with stolen elephants due to the shortage of legitimate ones! So pre British rule, how many elephants were used, and who owned them? The King or his Courtiers? Etc.

Anonymous said...

This perehara tradition is somewhat nebulous.

We now use lights lit by batteries on the Elephants and we have less in terms of fires along the way to light up the parade route. Now they are electric bulbs. What is the real story of the stresses of an Elephant on parade? What is the latest thinking about how much they like or hate going on these pereharas? We know Elephants have a good memory, so if they are used to going on the same pereraha each year, they are used to the format and ceremony. If they don’t like it surely they will make it clear that their Mahout at least knows that.

There used to flashbulbs in the past, and now with digital cameras even flashes are less obtrusive. We have to move with the times, but also with the feelings of the Elephants. What if they really enjoy their role? Do we wish to deny them?

Anonymous said...

Please remember that Elephants and Pereharas have NOTHING to do with Buddhism.

It is to do with Sri Lankan traditions and culture, using the word Buddhism to give legitimacy to anything they do, or want to do for their own prestige. This applies to Christianity too, as their traditions have NOTHING to do with the Bible. It is a means to enslave people into belief systems for the benefit of clergy, and their survival. Otherwise they would not have a means to live.

Anonymous said...

Many private owners lend or rent their Elephants out, as the cost of their upkeep is getting more each day, and so they have to earn their keep! Whether that is fair for tame elephants is another question, and it is all about supply and demand. For example little by little, the demand for elephant rides in Habarana is diminishing. Owners used to lend them there for a daily rate as an economic proposition.

Temples NOW pay to get elephants to come to their pereharas, and can amount to about Rs50,000 a time. Cheaper than owning one for the Temple, if prestige is an UNBUDDHIST desire. In time if there is NO successful captive breeding program, there will be no tame elephants for zoos or pereharas. Interesting to know at what rate Pinnawela population is falling or rising. It would be nice to have this information made public in a website every six months.

Anonymous said...

Is it asking too much for us to have a list of all names and ages of Elephants that the Temples own, so that if there are others not on the list, this can be pointed out to the authorities, as the public don’t have access to this information to report any illegal ownership? This information can be updated on line for ease of reference.