29 September, 2020

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Elephants Should Not Be Used For Peraharas At All

By A S Abeyratne

Elephants are in the processing of being eliminated in many countries including Sri Lanka. Currently it is recorded that many elephants die or are killed in Sri Lanka every year. I therefore wrote and published a book titled “Save the Elephants” in 2019 December and this book is available at Vijitha Yapa. In this book I have recorded that elephants are killed not only for the tusks and bones but also for the skins! A small hand bag for leaders made out of elephant skin will cost about US $ 1000 (Rs 190,000). Besides screens for widows are made out of elephant skins which are extremely costly.

It is sad to notice that there is a lot of mis-management and harassment in domesticated elephants. The biggest harassment for elephants done in Sri Lanka is when they participate in Buddhist festivals. Lord Buddha never urged anyone to organize processions with elephants for any event. Buddhists festivals was created in in 301 – 238 BC by King Keerthi Sri Megavarna. Elephants never participated in these Buddhist festivals to start with. Many leaders are priests wanted attractive pereheras and a started using elephants. Today many temples use elephants for Pereharas and even adopt elephants for for Buddhist festivals. Thus elephants were introduced to Kandy perehera in 2014, Ratnapura in 2016, Karandeniys in 2018 and Kotte in 2019. Today more than 50 elephants participate in many Buddhist pereheras. 

It is my recommendation that elephants should NOT be used for Peraharas at all. This is an atrocity for all domestic elephants. The reasons for such  recommendations are due to:

1. Elephants spend several days by participating in festivals

2. During their participation they do not get sufficient care and food.

3. Elephant foot care is not at all done during Pereharas.

5. Long travel by four on tar roads for several days will damage the the feet.

6. No foot care is done during festivals.

7. Decorating the body of elephants with decorated cloths will interfere with perspiration and become an harassment for elephants.

8. Finally by fixing lights all over the body especially the ears will cause a tragedy for elephants for easy breathing. 

Unlike in human beings elephants perspire through their ears. The when elephants start walking they have to perspire mostly through their ears. That is why elephants keep on shaking their ears. But when the ears are covered with cloths it before impossible to perspire. In addition when there are lights fixed around the ear, breathing becomes impossible. Therefore covering elephant ears with cloths and the different colored lights will be hard for elephants to tolerate. At each pereheras elephants are forced to face several events such as riot colors, twinkling lights, burning torches, thunderous noises of drums, whip cracking, flash lights, lots of loud noises etc. Massive human populations gathered to admire the riots also causes pain and suffering to the participating elephants. On some occasions elephant run amok when they cannot face such chronic processions. 

The other problem is that elephants are very heavy and they have to keep on standing for long periods of time. The average weight of an Asian elephant is 6,000 – 10,000 lbs (3 – 7 tons). This means that a foot of an elephant has to lift about 1,4000 – 2,500 lbs. This is not easy. A human weighing 140 lbs will have to face 70 lbs per each foot. Thus such a huge weight for each elephant foot need soft areas for travel. But all elephants travel long distances not only for daily routine perehera travel but also to join the perehera group form far away places. Therefore after a perehera all elephant feet will be injured. In the wild state elephants never come across tased roads for travel. But when they participated in rehears they have to walk on tased roads and many elephants will get injured feet. A common cause of death in domesticated elephants is due to foot lesions. Such conditions are not noticed early but when diagnosed it is too late to treat. Therefore taking foot care of all elephants daily is an urgent necessity. 

When elephants are brought to participate in pereheras, it is essential for them to be examined by veterinarians who should keep records in a computer where daily examinations and updating can be done. The condition of each elephant foot should be photographed and recorded every day. Such data should be available in the computer for any investigations. These reports should be seen by a specialist veterinarian and approved for the nightly fun. 

What about food and drinking water? Are all elephants receiving sufficient quantities of food and water daily? Any captive elephant need about 250- 300 lbs of food for a day. Such qualities are never provided for elephants daily when the attend processions. Most of the food provided have hard tree trunks that cannot be eaten. Only the leave can be eaten. If the leaves available for a day is weighed it will be less that 100 lbs. In addition are any elephant fed with grains and/or grains? I doubt very much. Each elephant need about 50 gallons of water a day. Is anyone measuring the weight of the water given to elephants? And that too they should be allowed to drink water several times a day. I have seen that after Kandy Perehara the first thing they do after just finishing the procession is to run to a source if water (pond) and keep on drinking and washing their bodies. There is a big competition for this. 

I am sad that there is no one interested in managing elephants the proper way when they attend processions. There should a a rule of law to be used and these rules must be properly implemented. 

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Latest comments

  • 9
    4

    One day (sooner than latter) they will have closed all zoos other than for endangered animal and injured animals. They will have to produce soy, almond and other vegan milk much affordable prices for all. Why should animals pay with their life for human enjoyments? Hypocrisy cow meat avoiding Hindus must be taught to treat all animals equal.

  • 7
    2

    Elepahtns for perehara are trained from their early years. In most cases as soon as they were born.
    They are beaten to submission
    They are chained all day and week and all months and all year after year
    The elephants are not happy elephants….look through their eys and you can see they are sad.
    Elephants are depict Lord Ganesha
    Even in India in some Hindu temples Elephants are tamed

    free all elephant’s from Zoos and captivity and send them back to their natural habitat

    • 6
      1

      How about freeing them from all temples and palaces (like in Mysore)?

  • 7
    10

    I don’t agree. The participation in a perehara is not abuse. Why don’t these clowns write about all the animals that are battery farmed? killed for their meat. put in circuses in zoos or whatever.

    These are domesticated intelligent animals. If you keep them around a house for 70 years they will be bored to death. Won’t you be bored too?

    • 3
      1

      Intelligent animals do better in the wild.

  • 7
    3

    How about chicken Mr. A S Abeyratne…?

    • 0
      0

      A valid question and a thumps up for that.
      still, people are known to commit suicide when they anticipate being prisoned for a long time. so death is better than not having the freedom and that is why people sacrifice their life for it. so in that sense chickens are a bit luckier than the elephants!

  • 4
    1

    The picture; what a magnificent animal!
    What a shame if one day they are all gone because of human stupidity.

    • 0
      0

      eeakdavi
      Do not worry, the way things are now, humanity may be gone before other species are.

  • 4
    1

    Look at the leg injuring the elephant that has chained it is one ior two inches in depth continues chaining might separate NO one has thought of putting a belt so that it will be comfortable for the elephant. Surely, we know better than to fall into the same mental trap as an elephant with a chain around its leg Chaining denies an elephant these elements, so fundamental to its psychological and emotional wellbeing.

    • 3
      1

      are you an elephant psychiatrist ? or do you know about restraining a 6000 lb animal?

  • 5
    2

    While the contents of the article are valid and suggestions should be heeded, the text reads like an essay of a teenage school child. perhaps the editors of CT could edit for language, grammar and coherence. By the way, elephants have been used in the Kandy perahera from much earlier than 2014…I wonder where these dates were obtained from?

    • 4
      1

      “the text reads like an essay of a teenage school child…”
      teenage school children write better English these days

      A S Abeyratne says he wrote a book….cant imagine the standard of the English of the book ….wonder if it was proof read.

  • 3
    0

    At the foremost of the mind of a practitioner of Buddhism are Renunciation, Non-ill will and Avoidance of cruelty to all living beings. It is the crux of the entire Prophesy of the Great Lord.

    The deployment of elephants in Buddhist cultural events as show attractions to entertain the childish minds of the masses is an affront to the Great Lord and his Profound Philosophy. It also glorify the shallow minds and the lack of understanding of the profoundness of the Lord’s Teaching by the Sinhala Buddhists. This idiotic exploitation of hapless creatures for cheap entertainment of the shallow minds must stop forthwith.

  • 9
    4

    When Dalada Perahera gets closer, always there are junkies who come out with this issue. There is a concerted effort by some people to ruin Dalada Perahera which is a part of Sinhala Buddhist heritage and a great attraction to tourists.
    These guys who care for elephants should pay more attention to the number of people killed by elephants and the damage they do to poor farmers and find a feasible solution. I do not think a single elephant has died by participating in ‘Peraheras’ but number of elephants get killed because of the threat they posed to people in rural areas.
    When it comes to this issue, the favorite answer given by these dumbos is ‘people are invading the territory of elephants’. They do not think about circumstances that have forces people to settle down in areas where elephants live. There was a time that elephants were present in Colombo. Colombians killed or chased them away and occupied their territory.
    President Sirisena invited proposals to solve human-elephant conflict. We like to know whether Mr. A.S.Aberatne proposed a solution and if so what.

    • 1
      2

      Dear EE I agree………we had this miserable unwanted war that killed, mimed many animals too.

      It is an out of context article published in a time of serious issues affecting the Nation and am sorry it is masqueraded as a concern for the animal.

      The entire history elephants worked/slaved/died to serve all the kings/wars to date….even used in the Tourism industry in a great scale……this article is not suitable in CT not=r it is timely for harmony. This has a different motives….CT well done.

  • 6
    1

    I agree with the writer completely. After his awakening the Buddha went everywhere on foot. He would not let another creature bear his weight. He would not have approved of any use of animals.

    I would like the zoos to be closed too, Hindu animal sacrifices to be banned and the possession of caged birds to be illegal.

    • 2
      0

      EE, TV and Stanley
      If you are serious about this kindness to animals business, you will accept that animal husbandry is worse cruelty than slaughter.
      That means no milk or milk food, no eggs, no woolen clothes, no leather goods– you name it.
      Among other things, forget about the umbalakada in your seenisambol.
      *
      If one can eat meat, does it matter where the animal is slaughtered– the abattoir, home garden or temple?
      The Buddha spoke against slaughter but did not prohibit meat in food, something the our clergy happily follow.
      The Jains took the idea of kindness to animals to extremes, even more dogmatically than some vegans.

      • 0
        1

        Dear SJ

        I am all for animal rights except used leather shoes/belt/all other animal products such as cheese/milk/ghee etc and always tried to minimise etc. I have been a member of Compassion In World Farming in the UK and followed up few seminars in year 2000…. I met Hon Menaka Gandhi (Indian Environmental Minister) and Dr Vanthana Shiva a great Environmentalist also touch subjects such as Animal Farming/Sustainability/Environmental impact etc which can not be separated in our planet today. I have attended a meeting not long ago by Dr Vanthana Shiva who was invited to SL by our environmental groups to present her case when we were passing seed laws in Sri Lanka. She was also involved in writing the seed laws protecting Indian Agro industry from robbed by the Monsantao/Patent issues etc.

        It is a huge issue and respect the author toucing a very important subject but the timing is very inappropriate is all what I said for the stated reason above.

        • 3
          0

          If wee are talking kindness let work it out correctly. There are animals domesticated so much that they will not survive in the wild.
          But breeding animals for food and other raw materials has nothing to do with love for animals.
          I do not claim any such love, but merely take a rational approach about human survival.
          Maneka Gandhi is not highly reputed for kindness to her own species, especially of a certain religion.

          • 0
            0

            Sure. She was attending the seminar titled “Farming for the Millennium” organised by the CIWF. year 2000 along with world over Environmental Ministers/Monsanto/President Clintons food advisors etc.

            The topic discussed animal farming and use as a whole without cruelty, sustainable without environmental impact. To produce 1 lb of meat one needs around 8-10 lb of wheat so the arguments was about mass balance/energy balance and sustainable farming to feed the world.

            She highlighted India one ion the largest if not the largest cattle exporter to the world…life animals for slaughter with a huge meat industry. Having to choose local crops such as soya and others that repays the IMF and other World loans and how they affected local farming technologies that were more organised in nature, maintaining soil and nutritional quality in food etc. Very informative and educative just as all other participants too. This is right after/during mad cow disease issue.

            • 1
              0

              She has consistently been hurtful towards a certain community.
              I refuse to compartmentalise kindness.

        • 0
          0

          I meant to say guilty using animal products not except?

      • 2
        1

        SJ, the points you raise are due to not understanding the first precept. I am sorry and apologise for saying this, but you will see that it is true. The first precept does not say that we mustn’t take a life. It says ‘I undertake the training to avoid the taking of life’. It is a process of gradual training of oneself, not an absolute avoidance of killing.
        .
        All of us kill. When we brush our teeth we kill germs don’t we? When we breathe or gargle, we kill. Having been born in the Human realm on the planet Earth, we inherit all the good and bad situations involved with that birth. These include killing as a part of living. We cannot help it.
        .
        But what we can do is to train ourselves to kill as little as possible. So a soldier might say “I’ll kill the enemy but I’ll never kill a civilian”. A civilian might say “I’ll kill animals but never a human”. Someone might refine his actions further and say “I won’t even kill animals but I will eat meat”. Someone else might be a Vegetarian or a Vegan. So it is a process of training and improving.

        • 2
          0

          Continued—-The Buddha was a very practical person. He did not create rules or any discipline that was impossible to follow. Emperor Asoka too became a vegetarian but did not ban the killing of animals entirely. The animal husbandry that you mention should be avoided but it may be impossible to eliminate it completely.
          .
          Zoos, sacrifices and the use of elephants however are very different. Humans do not depend on them for food and they could easily be banned by any government that has the political will to do so. Having said that I don’t really expect anything will be done. Money and power will always take first place in our politician’s priorities.

        • 1
          0

          We are talking Buddhism I guess.
          In Buddha’s time bacteria and other micro-organisms were unknown. It was not long ago that it was recognized that plants suffer pain. He could not have recognized anything as living but for multi-cellular organisms that were visible, moved and showed pain.
          *
          I assume that you have a sense of humor. If not please skip the next two lines.
          So the Buddha could not have dental care in mind (although his teeth are heavily protected).
          *
          How does a soldier define an enemy? Whose enemy. Every soldier kills persons, often including civilians, in the name of his country or another country (as in the case of UN Peace Keepers).
          I know that the Buddha acted to prevent war. I do not know any instance where he justified war.
          A good Buddhist has to work on the basis of what the Buddha had in mind. One has to be true to himself/herself.
          To rationalize killing is not Buddhist; and for Buddhist clergy to desire (or even demand) meat is being insincere.

  • 1
    0

    Dear ASA

    Animal rights is a huge issue that need to be addressed all around the world and respect your article. We have our issues in SL.

    I feel this article published amongst all other anti Buddhist CT articles during the election time may not help the elephants welfare is my point. This prevents us from having a productive discussion to empower our people to address animal welfare but could be an issue raised by the elected in the parliament without provoking animosity amongst people for sure would be great.

    Thank you

    • 2
      0

      It also includes the slaughter issue, animal farming issues, and all religions have issues with this too. There were Hindu temples/certain sec do slaughter of animals in temples even few hundred yards down the road from where I grew up in Karainagar. Now with the meet being promoted in huge scale in SL this carries animal rights issues in a huge scale and applies to all live in an economy.

      In my house we always had a cow and the cow was tied to a post all her life and we shared the milk with the calf………we are a life long vegetarians. We need to discuss this in a holistic manner if we want to talk about animal rights is the point. Buddhism makes a lot of people Vegans around the world compare to any other religions and contribute a lot to animal welfare too.

      So adice to CT is please do not print articles that create animosoty in an election time. We will discuss all as One Nation very soon and hope to see so many great articles published for all the right reasons to empower our people soon.

  • 1
    3

    Elephants were used in the perehara since 2014 wtf
    Do elephants breathe through their ears ? LMAO

    Does CT do any fact-checking at all ? or is this a site for alt facts ?

    The Author should go back to primary school.

    • 3
      0

      a14455
      I share your concern
      In the Kandy Perehera in 1976, on the one and only occasion that I went to see it in my scores of years near Kandy, I now think that people disguised as elephants paraded the streets until real elephants were introduced in 2014 for shortage of tall people.

      *
      Please do not blame CT. It tolerates a lot worse B** S***.

  • 0
    0

    A S Abeyratne – “….Besides screens for widows are made out of elephant skins….”

    is the screen used as some kind of Chasity belt by the widows?

  • 2
    0

    Somebody suggested parading all our politicians instead. Let the 225+ thieves atone for the crimes they have committed during the year, while mahouts dig them with spears and fire works explode under their feet.

  • 2
    1

    A S Abeyratne thanks for the exhaustive report on the abuse of these elephants. But let us not have the misguided view that the training of these animals for religious pageantry is so wrong. A better perspective is that more must to done to ensure elephants’ health and comfort during Perehera time. Humane training should be mandatory, especially in a Buddhist nation.
    *
    There is not much room for elephants left in in the wild, during this era of rabid capitalism. Unless we are ready to create more natural sanctuaries for elephants, training using a few of them for pageantry will do well for both man and beast.
    *
    These elephants have been trained from an early age to withstand the rigors of the month of the Perehara…rather like men trained for rigors in battle…or children force-trained to sit still in classrooms and devote their brains to extraneous study. Previously humans, like elephants, were foragers for over a 200,000 years, and only in the last 10,000 years we have been settlers……and within the past 100 years, forced to sit in classrooms from kindergarten and listen to outside voices and ideas not belonging to our family and even social group.

    • 0
      2

      Grandma you are half crazy!

      What are you talking about.

      If I see ISIS I ask them to take you to their field and train in suicide bombing, because last 10,000 years you are trained to sit in kindergarten, and that is the next logical step for human being. .

      Do you know Appe Aanduwa’s underground partners are using even cats to carry badu to the prisons? Is that because the cat has learned to sit in Kindergarten last 10,000 years too?

      Just stop cooking elephant curry at home, because elephants too have been trained to sit in nursery, like human being, for long time.

      Karumam the Mother Lankawe, because people like you are there. .

  • 3
    1

    Ramona Therese Fernando, do you think the Buddha would have said “Yes that’s a good way of honouring me. Put a replica of one of my teeth on the back of an elephant and parade it round the town accompanied by drums and fireworks”?
    .
    These are cultural traditions of Sri Lanka/India and have nothing to do with the Buddha’s teaching. Other Buddhist countries like Thailand and Myanmar do not have peraheras but they are renowned for having quite a few expert meditations masters.

    • 1
      0

      Stanley
      Well said.

    • 2
      1

      Stanley, since that is Buddha’s real tooth, better venerate it, no? Perehara is not the teachings of Buddha per se, but the culture that has been created around Buddha. So Buddha won’t mind actually, and will sanction it as both man and beast are happy. Drums and fireworks are to dispel evil from the mind, and invoke positivity.

      • 1
        0

        My dear lady, firstly the tooth relic was ground to dust by the Portuguese (the Bishop of Goa I think). It was done in public to show our people that the invaders were the victors. What we have in the Maligava is a replica. It is rather like the Turin Shroud, not the genuine item.
        .
        Secondly, the Buddha has said repeatedly that we can best honour him by practicing his teachings. No doubt the thug Gnanasara knows much better than the Buddha and will shortly be shouting the odds in Parliament.
        .
        Thirdly, I am not condemning cultural practices. But they should be seen as just that – cultural practices and not as the genuine practice of the Dhamma.

        • 0
          0

          They molded another tooth with the dust.

    • 1
      1

      Mr Stanley

      The Thais and the Burmese have their own strange traditions, They are also not truely buddhist traditions, That is what is called the culture. That is not wrong or right. but it is important that we hold own to our unique culture as long as we do not harm the creatures doing it .

  • 2
    2

    Lets get real here instead of following every western liberal notion. The Country has a big problem with human-elephant conflict. There is only so much space. If these animals were in the wild there is a 50 50 chance of death by bullet.

    These are animals that live as long as humans and have a great deal of intelligence. Attending the perehara is no abuse. These animals learn to love the experience. It is a great enrichment to them rather than being tied to a tree in the owner yard days on end. and let’s agree there is no hope for them in the wild anymore.

    In the buddhist way of thinking we conside even being able to visit the dalada maligawe a merit , what better than the elephant carrying the sacred relic,

    Weather you believe if the buddhist way or not it is a fact that keeping large destructive animals without some sort of enrichment is a recipe for disaster, Also this is an item of our culture.

    Even in buddhas time some of his dayaka kings owned elephants. I am sure he would have spoken out if he thought these animals were being harmed. I think above all buddha was a pragmatist not a dogmatist.

  • 1
    0

    While the real elephant that is facing extinguishment in Sri Lanka may be saved…
    The Elephant symbol has been wiped out without recognition and facing extinguishment

    • 0
      0

      I mean extinction
      think “extinguishment ” was an autofill…I hate auto fill words

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