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The Pinnawala Incident: A look back PDF Print E-mail

It is reported that one of the bigger male elephants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (PEO) has died due to injuries caused by a mahout.

I do not have first-hand information about what has happened but I can comment as follows-

“What could have been a world renowned research facility, and a unique tourism attraction, has today been relegated into a badly managed facility with little or no research or scientific observations being carried out. There are reports that animals are being ill-treated and in kept unhygienic conditions”- I wrote in the Specialist Elephant Magazine- Gajah Edition 30, 2009. In fact some close foreign friends who have visited Sri Lanka on numerous occasions before, commented to me after a visit last year to the PEO, that it is a “Den of Thieves”Therefore, although I am saddened and angry about the incident, I am not surprised. The fact that the mahouts at Pinnawala are law unto themselves’  and that they do not really treat the elephants properly is a well-known fact.  .

The report says that the elephant died of injuries sustained from an ankus used by the mahout. Initially I thought that inadvertently a mahout had pricked one of the few and very critical nerve centers of the elephant, causing its death. Elephants have some 100 odd nerve centers which are used by experienced mahouts to get it to obey commands. Amongst them are few critical points which, if pricked by the ankus deep enough, can cause death according to Deraniyagala (1955). Whatever the cause of this human inflicted death to the elephant maybe, it is quite unacceptable. Like most other serious matters, this incident will also soon be forgotten, to take its place somewhere in the dusty archives, while we Sri Lankans as a Nation, go on with our lives, unashamed of the degradation taking place all around.


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