21 October, 2020

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Thilina-Uduwe Elephants & Other Elephants

By Sarath Wijesinghe

Sarath Wijesinghe

Sarath Wijesinghe

Magistrate as an owner of an Elephant

Thilina Gamage” is a pleasant young non-controversial magistrate, who was charged with public property act, and for the possession of a baby elephant valued at 6.9 million allegedly without a valid licence. It is also alleged that he has been avoiding / evading the courts awaiting the outcome of his application for anticipatory bail. His defence is said to be the possession of a valid receipt from the person he has bought the Elephant calf from. Many other cases are pending with more wrongdoings and inquires which is shelved and under the carpet due to obvious reasons.

Another owner of an Elephant Calf has been a powerful member of legislature of the previous regime who has become a multi millionaire within few years and it is unlikely his matter will come to the surface because he has agreed to cross over and divulge information. “Thillina’s matter” is given wide publicity as the other case of a famous Buddhist Monk allegedly possessing an Elephant Baby unlawfully. Presumably he may have crossed the path in some way to get into this soup unlike many other illegal Elephant owners unconcerned and unaffected. There are cases pending and our area of discussions are limited and restricted to general information and facts that are of public interest. Wide publicity is given to this case and the facts which is somewhat unusual which concerns environmentalists, activists, professionals and media. Whether a magistrate could afford to purchase and maintain the young elephant calf is a matter left to him, but whether he has complied with the Fauna and Protection ordinance 1937 amended in 2009 is the main issue to be considered. Section 23 of the act states that any Elephant which has not been registered under S/ 23, shall be presumed to be taken or removed without lawful authority such Elephants deemed to be public property. Elephant needs 150 kg of food and 150 litres of water per day and the cost of maintained with the caretaker is extremely expensive for an average citizen. These facts are common to all involved in the illegal trade still flourishing with the help of the rich and powerful.

Elephants are Intelligent Social Animals

Elephants are intelligent, social, society inclined, socially complex animals living in herds with a leader and bonded together in loving and peaceful environment. They keep away from other animals and other animals keep Elephants at arm’s length except tigers, and scavengers taking immature calves as pray with ferocious resistance from the mother. They are full of family bonds, social and lovable harmless animals unless they are threatened and habitat is disturbed. They are a part of the environment preserving the environment, strength and the beauty of the jungle and jungle life. Elephants are connected to the Sri Lankan culture and customs and during Kings the wealth was assessed by the ownership of the number of elephants. This system trickled down for generations considering Elephant as a symbol of social status. Kings and the rich only could own Elephants presented and permitted to be owned by the decree of the King. Situation changed after colonisation when British started to kill Elephants as a sport and to reduce the number for convenience. Due to import of heavy vehicles and the introduction of the train the use of the Elephant was confined to Customary rituals such as “Pereharas”, a status symbol, and a tourist attraction. Today Elephant has become most expensive merchandise.

Snatching Baby Elephants from the Jungle

Snatching baby elephants from the Jungle has attracted the illegal traders due to millions of rupees in the illegal trade as or more lucrative than Drug Trade. It is a simple operation with the help of Politicians, Powerful and rich with the staff of the wildlife Department who are supposed to protect the Elephants and the wildlife from rouges. Mother is shot and killed to separate the Calf tied or transported out and veterinary surgeon’s certificate and the birth certificate is taken for the name to be entered in the Elephant registration book which is a controversial book discussed in number of cases against the leader “Ali Roshan” (Elephant Roshan) and other illegal Elephant Traders. It is a well-established and invested illegal trade with large acres of land and heavy vehicles for the transport of calves and lot of money to spend on politicians, Wild Life Department and the cronies in the system which is reported in Ceylon Today and many papers and case records of Ali Roshan and other members of the group are accused of other cases which has been given wide publicity. Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa has been the wild life Minister for a considerable period until he crossed over to Yahpalanaya for safety absolving himself of any wrong doings. He said most Elephants in Sri Lanka are illegal and will take steps to make it legal. He makes funny and controversial statements now and then on the matter.

Way Forward

Elephant is our treasure and a symbol of culture from the time of Kings who respected and protected the animal, which is a part and parcel of our environment and wealth. They go through torture in captivity with no food and additional torture during transit and living with conditions below standard. Methods used for captivity are barbarous torturous and illegal. Human Elephant conflict is due to the invasion of their habitats by unplanned deforestation and developments. We are proud to have 8873 Elephants which is decreasing rapidly due to Human Elephant conflict and lack of coordination and implementation of the act and the preventive measures. Organized groups snatch Elephant Calves from the Jungle to sell for millions with forged papers which are controversial with information of loss and alteration of the Elephant Registration Book. We do not need outsiders to ruin us and our culture. We ruin over selves, our environment, and our cultural heritages in Temples and wild life with the most uncommon animals in the Globe. Historically foreigners invaded us to ruin us. Now we ruin ourselves. It is time to demand Zero elephant private ownership and minimize the use of Elephants in Pereharas in the interest of the future of the Nation in grief. Thickly Elephant populated areas such as Habarana to be declared areas for elephants with protected wires and providing the Chena cultivators alternative land. One must read the campaign for Elephants welfare in the countries with no Elephants or greenery. We do not realise the value of the Elephant and the culture and environment connected to because we are fortunately to possess this rare environments beauty and the animals as a part of our wealth. Citizen is not concerned or worried about the cases and the parties involved, but if something good is the outcome of the cases they will be happy and contended. Citizen wishes and prays this message will reach the powerful people in power.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    1

    Why the fixation on baby elephants?

    If people are keen to adopt animals, why not from the parliament?

    Some rare breeds not found in any jungle are found there.

    • 4
      0

      nimal fernando

      “If people are keen to adopt animals, why not from the parliament?”

      When they fart, the whole village stinks.

  • 7
    0

    Hope this message will reach the people in power to take necessary and immediate and steps arrangements before the destruction of our environment and the elephant treasure

  • 9
    0

    These lawyers cannot afford to talk about such things. Once there was a lawyer who became secretary of the lawyers association and then played out money from this organization while planning a foreign trip for the lawyers! Another chap was charged with transferring illegally property of a rich client in Rajagiriya to himself.
    All these lawyers were given due recognition by Mahinda Rajapakse by giving them high appointments !

  • 1
    9

    I suppose the NGO funding your lifestyle paid you well for this piece of utter rubbish !

    Elephants in religious processions and the entire culture of looking after elephants domestically is part of our heritage. Bleeding heart liberals and other so called elephant lovers who would rather condemn animals who cannot live in the wild to a life of drudgery in zoos and orphanages, simply demonstrate how little they know about these animals or the aforesaid culture of our country.

    Please do not listen to this nonsense and be guided by people who have first hand experience in these matters.

    • 2
      0

      Do tell us of your Firsthand Experience !

      Are you a elephant owner yourself ? How were your animal(s) obtained ? How old are they ? How do you pay for their upkeep ?

      If you are so delighted with the heritage and culture, suggest you ditch your car, bus, computer and trousers, and go back to the spancloth and start walking from place to place – in keeping with that awesome heritage

      • 0
        0

        Why don’t you stick your Malu Miris where your mouth is !

  • 9
    0

    Our Elephants are a national treasure and while all steps should be taken to protect them no body should be allowed to misuse them for private gain. The notion that we need Elephants to popularize peraheras is not acceptable to civilized people. We have come very far from the middle ages where life was said to be nasty brutish and short. We cannot go back. We have to find other ways and means of conducting peraharas. If Thilina Gamage is disheartened by losing his Elephant calf you can imagine the agony of the mother Elephant which lost the new born calf . Maximum punishment should be meted out to the culprits and they should be rehabilitated after serving the sentence.
    .

  • 3
    0

    Maybe we need a new Law here – Any Citizen be allowed to Own an elephant or wildlife, but… that animal must be solely looked after by the OWNER and not a mahout/s….

    Basically – you want to own an elephant?? Then you must look after it personally, feeding, bathing, etc, etc all by the owner!!!!!

    Damn these stupid people who want to own an elephant!!!!!

  • 2
    0

    Elephants have been a part of Sri Lanka & its culture. In the old days with no tractors & heavy machinery, elephants were domesticated & used as working animals but in the 21st century, it is best to leave these animals in their natural habitat & protected by law, after all wild animals are a part of the country’s identity. Unfortunately, nature reserves are being encroached by land grabbers supported by those with political connections & illicit hunting is rampant. Recently, while visiting Sri Lanka with a few foreign friends, my friends & I were shocked at the animal cruelty in this so called Buddhist country. We have seen a half starved, shackled elephant in a famous Buddhist temple in Colombo, where the elephant is kept probably as a tourist attraction & we have been offered ‘exotic’ meat in the menu at various eating places around the ‘sacred’ town of Katharagama. Although there are genuinely concerned animal welfare groups in Sri Lanka, they don’t seem to have the resources nor the time as they busy with their own problems to high light and educate, particularly, the villagers about the wide spread animal cruelty in the country.

  • 8
    0

    1. It is well said by the Learned Lawyer who appeared for Thilina Gamage and made the media statement within the Gangodavila Magistrate’s Court premises that Thilina Gamage bought the elephant legally. Very good, now it is time to call Thilina Gamage’s Declaration of Assets and Liabilities(DAL) Form [annually declared by the udges including Thilina Gamage ] to the Commission to Investigate allegations of Bribery or Corruption from the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission under whose custody the document is kept before it is also altered/tampered/tinkered by someone, because that will definitely prejudice to Thilina Gamage if he has bought this elephant for 6.9 million rupees or whatever the amount spent and yet it should have been declared in his DAL and if somebody rip it off from the records then Thilina Gamage shall be charged for not making or making a false declaration and/or for not declaring true assets in the DAL which is a punishable offence under the Bribery Act 1994.
    2. It is also revealed that there were two criminal cases pending against Thilina Gamage in the very same Magistrate’s Court where he got bail. The last hearing said to have been taken up in somewhere in the year 2006/7 and that it was just a couple of years before Thilina Gamage was taken to the Judicial Service of Sri Lanka by the then Judicial Service Commission (JSC) headed by the then Chief Justice Sarath N Silva. Now it is time for the present Chief Justice and the Judicial Service Commission to look into the details of those cases for the good name of Thilina Gamage because anyone who applies for a post in the judicial office shouldn’t be a person with any prior criminal history. However, there is enough news on public media not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world that Thilina Gamage has threatened with a firearm in his possession to some public officers at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage over the same issue. I do not know whether or not the IGP call for a report on this issue to see whether he possesses a license to carry a firearm. Even the JSC has to take judicial notice of this matter as a serious issue since the alleged behavior is by one of their judicial officers who has acted in a manner that bring the dignity of the entire judiciary to disgrace which is amounting to be dismissed from the judiciary according to a special JSC Circular which deals with the disciplinary process of the judges. Absconding from the accepted legal process of the country for any type of offence is also a serious offence when it is committed by an ordinary citizen and yet it becomes more serious when it is committed in daylight by a person who is appointed by the JSC to punish such offenders.
    3. People doubt whether the JSC headed by the Chief Justice of this country is aware of these or not?

    4. This is a time where the international eye including that of UN is to introduce a High-bred Court in Sri Lanka to deal with some special type of cases and will not too far to be surprised if they suggest the whole judiciary to be such owing to what is happening in the judiciary as we see in these scenarios.

    5. The people of this country roughly about 20 million are looking at the move that will be taken up by the Judicial Service Commission and by the Chief Justice as the head of the Judiciary over

    • 1
      0

      Well said Independent…….

  • 5
    1

    carefully look at the eyes of domestic elephants, they cry most of the time.

    • 2
      0

      Pacs,

      Of course they do.

      They shed tears for themselves, their children in captivity, their brothers who were killed by poachers for their teeth, and for their sisters who have no companions.

      In the sixties, I have watched elephant herds in their natural habitat at Lahugala. Their joyful antics and the elders nursing, caressing and feeding the young ones was a joy to watch.

      Now there is this unexplainable fascination to own elephants.
      And, the Disciples of The Compassionate One, take pride in sitting near mounted elephant teeth, obtained by killing the owners.

    • 0
      1

      Here is a magnificent example of rubbish sentimentality. It is scientifically proven that if an elephant’s eyes tear incessantly it is due to lack of water…nothing to do with crying for its brothers.

      If elephants are not allowed as pets then neither must dogs and cats be allowed !

  • 4
    0

    Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Chairman the Chief Justice both have to resign because of Gangodawila judge unacceptable decision. And this Gangodawila judge must send home and sack a.s.a.p. Bailing people without keeping money is a big mistake.

    • 2
      0

      By well knowing so called document is a fake one how he acted. This magistrate must be sacked from the service and cancel his law certificate and inform to all countries.

  • 2
    1

    The estimated elephant population in 1920 was 8000. In 2007 the number dwindled to 3000. In 2011 the then government said the population was 5879 – ostensibly counting elephants at waterholes and extrapolating. The elephant calf snatchers were allowed to legally carry out the trade. By then the culture of impunity has taken roots and people started owning elephant calves as pets. Wild life experts estimated that for every calf one or more adult elephant got killed. Two in three calves died in captivity. The nouvea-riche flaunted the status symbol pets. They hoped that their political connection to be permanent – This was not to be.

  • 2
    0

    There are many to be sent home. Not only these two or three or four or five.
    The JSC is headed by the Chief Justice. He/She is the Chairman ex-officio.
    There are other two members who are judges of the supreme court.
    The post of secretary[A Senior District Judge] is just an office who liaise with the administrative matters of the judicial officers.
    None can challenge a decision of the JSC. JSC is meant for the appointment, administration, training,and governance of all functions of the judicial officers including that of the disciplinary actions over the judicial officers. Interference with the affairs of the JSC is a punishable offense. Therefore, none can direct or ask the JSC to do this and that. But it must understand that 20 million people are watching these mockeries, yet not just watching, but while laughing from the other end of their body.

    • 3
      0

      No one is above the law. Even GOD. But final power with people not with anybody.

      • 1
        3

        Don’t talk rubbish

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