The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) yesterday threatened to reveal names of those who are illegally keeping elephants, if measures are not taken to stop the illegal capture of elephants from the wild. BBS General Secretary, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera, while addressing the media, said rich and influential people, elephant thieves and mudalalis are illegally capturing elephants from the wild and taking them home. “We have all the names of the people, including monks, who presently are illegally keeping elephants. We know the people who are capturing and hiding these illegal elephants.
“We also know how many monks are involved in this racket and how many secretaries of ministries are using monks to get illegal elephants,” Gnanasara Thera alleged. He added that they know where these elephants are kept. “The relevant authorities can check how many elephants are in the wild and the number of blind elephants and tuskers, but they cannot check the number of elephants being kept by private parties,” he said.
“Environmentalists are constantly talking about this issue. The Wildlife and Resources Conservation Minister, Vijith Wijayamuni Soysa, has addressed this problem. But those who can take action against theses elephant thieves are saying they cannot intervene due to pressure from influential people,” Gnanasara Thera said.
He added the BBS’ main concern was that Buddhism and the cultural and religious aspect were being used as an excuse by elephant thieves to illegally capture baby elephants from the wild.
“It has been highlighted that mothers are killed and their babies taken away. We have our teams checking on these issues. The police are not acting on complaints because they have been told not to get involved in raids. We will go with the police and conduct the raids,” Gnanasara Thera said.
“Elephants have been treated as sacred and with respect since the birth of the Buddha. The Sacred Tooth Relic is also taken on the back of a tusker. However, some temples are being used to keep elephants illegally. We are ashamed of what is happening. The public is alert to this issue but the Malwatte Hamuduruwo is keeping silent on this problem, which is a very sad situation,” he noted.
He added that the country is noted for cruelty to elephants. “We are inviting the minister to discuss this issue with us and asking the Department of Wildlife and Conservation (DWLC) Director General H.D. Ratnayake to take action against these thieves.”
According to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) the birth of a baby elephant has to be registered with the DWLC. But there are many baby elephants with permits but have not been registered. Where did these baby elephants come from,” Gnanasara Thera questioned.
He said they are requesting all those engaged in this illegal racket to stop it.
(Courtesy: Ceylon Today)