Battle over baby elephants
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Author:  Rohan2 [ Wed Dec 13, 2006 9:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Battle over baby elephants

Battle over baby elephants

'Ath Athuru Sevana' is a government managed Elephant Transit Home in Uda Walawe, Sri Lanka. The baby elephants reside here were found abandoned, orphaned, sick or wounded in the jungle. They are kept and treated at this Elephant Transit Home and looked after till they are ultimately fit enough to be released back to the wild.

By Risidra Mendis
@ TML /13DEC2006

The Department of Wildlife and Conservation has turned down a request for the transfer of five baby elephants from the Uda Walawe transit home, Ath Athu Sevana to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

Zoological and Botanical Gardens Promotion Minister Bandula Basnayake has made this request due to a shortage of baby elephants at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

Environmentalists, while supporting wildlife officials for not giving into Basnayake’s request, are criticising the move made by the Minister.

Speaking to The Morning Leader veterinary surgeon Dr. Nanadana Atapattu said the main aim of Ath Athu Sevana was to release orphaned baby elephants back to the wild.

"I started this transit home on November 6, 2005. The first baby elephant brought to the transit home was Komali. She was around two to three months old at the time. When Komali was four-and-half-years old, she was released back to the wild. We monitor the movements of the baby elephants with the help of radio collars when they are released into the wild," Dr. Atapattu said.

Dr. Atapattu added that after monitoring the baby elephants for two years, the radio collars are removed. "By this time we know the baby elephants have adapted to their new environment in the jungle. Around 50 baby elephants were released since the inception of the transit home," he added.

All baby elephants at Ath Athu Sevana have sponsors. Dr. Atapattu was instrumental in starting this foster parent scheme where the milk for the baby elephants is provided by the sponsors.

"The sponsors have agreed to provide the milk powder for the baby elephants on the agreement that these babies will eventually be released to the wild. If baby elephants are sent from Ath Athu Sevana to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, the whole purpose of the transit home would be lost," explained Dr. Atapattu.

According to Dr. Atapattu, at the gate to the transit home a board with the motto ‘Let Them Go Back To Their Own Habitat’ is displayed.

The elephants at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage are relatively tame in comparison to the elephants at Ath Athu Sevana.

"If baby elephants are sent to Pinnawela they will be domesticated and eventually sent abroad and to temples including the Dalada Maligawa. More than 30 elephants have been sent abroad from the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage upto date. The orphanage should improve its facilities for breeding," Dr. Atapattu said.

At present the Pinnawela Orphanage has eight baby elephants. "Tourists and locals come to the orphanage to see baby elephants being bottle fed. This is a good income for the orphanage. However, the main purpose of the transit home is not to transfer baby elephants to the Pinnawela Orphanage," environmentalists point out.

:arrow: 'Ath Athuru Sevana': The elephant transit Home

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