Pinnawala Elephants To Be Given AwayArticle No 18125
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Posted on June 13, 2011 by Writer
By Nirmala Kannangara
The Zoological Department has come under severe criticism for arranging to release 19 tame elephants from the Pinnawala elephant orphanage to private parties.
Out of the 94 elephants at Pinnawala, 16 males and 3 females have been earmarked to be given away to temples and devalayas in the country that support the government, reliable sources from the Zoological Department and Pinnawala elephant orphanage told The Sunday Leader on the basis of anonymity.
The 16 male elephants are named Neela, Megha, Weera (alias Kandula 2) Suranimala, Rangiri, Bibile (alias Kandula 3) Sanka, Jayatu, Nandimitra, Arjuna (alias Kandula 6) Mihindu, Buwaneka, Pinnawala, Wasana, Haritha and Atlas. Sama, Ramya and Lasanda are the three female elephants that have been earmarked to be given away to ‘government friends’ the sources alleged.
They questioned why the Zoological Department had earmarked breeding elephants (which show more resistance to illness) to be given away, rather than the weaker inbred elephants. The 19 elephants chosen were all bred in the wild and were strong, the sources noted.
They added that they had proof to show that these elephants were being given to those who supported the Rajapaksa administration. It was pointed out that the present Zoological Director is a close associate of the Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa.
“Amongst the many prospective parties that are to be benefited are Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero and Ven. Kolonnawe Sumangala Thero,” claimed the sources.
Refuting the allegations, the Director of the Zoological Department Baswara Gunaratne said that he had received cabinet approval to hand over 15 elephants to private parties, in order to reduce the density at Pinnawala orphanage. Gunaratne said that the Department would see whether the prospective owners are financially able to maintain the elephant in addition to other tests for eligibility.
He added that the Department wanted to give elephants to temples and devalayas to use in cultural activities.
“Other than that there are no secret dealings behind this,” said Gunaratne.
All attempts to contact Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero for a comment failed.