By Rishan Hannan
A tense situation erupted when wildlife officers attempted to seize two elephants which were used for Polo tournaments in the Oruwala area in Athurugiriya.
Former Minister Chandana Kathriarachchi also arrived at the scene during the raid conducted by the wildlife officials. He further stated that the Nadungamuwe tusker is the only one who carries the main casket of the Temple of the Tooth Relic and the Natha Dewala casket is carried by the other tusker. It has been 20 years since they have said that it was not an illegally kept elephant.
A conversation between the wildlife officer and Chandana Kathriarachchi and Ven. Maagalkande Sudantha Thero regarding the elephant bordered on a quarrel. The conversation was about the ownership of the elephant. The conversation was as follows
We cannot trust them when they say that they don’t have a licence. We cannot trust it. However, isn’t there any sort of document we could check?
We can provide all the documents we have. There the wildlife officers released the elephant to former minister Kathriarachchi on the basis that the relevant documents would be submitted to court.
However, the other elephant who was said to belong to a person by the name of Ali Roshan in Maharagama, was taken into the custody of wildlife authorities. Afterwards, a group including Venerable Magalkande Sudantha thero also arrived at the scene.
We took it because it doesn’t add up. I didn’t check this particular elephant. When did I check this? I did not check this. Load up that elephant. We won’t listen to you as this elephant is under our custody. We treated you with respect. The permits don’t match. There is no point talking to you. This permit does not belong to you.
Ven. Maagalkande Sudantha Theo:
–Who assualted the elephant tamer? No one assaulted him. On whose authority did you assault this person? You cannot treat people that way.
Speak soflty, sir. What is illegal here? Why are you being so unfair? This is Chandana Kathriarachchi’s elephant. If we are being unfair this would not be reported to the courts. You cannot take his elephant. Why are you trying to take an elephant that has a permit. I will take this to the courts. We are not scared of llangakoon. Remember that. We were not even scared of Mahinda.
Assistant Director of the Western Sector, Department of Wildlife W. A. A. D. U. Indrajith stated that a group of their officials arrived at the scene to investigate the wrongful use of elephants in Polo tournaments and accordingly seized one elephant – another elephant was also seen. We will present a report to the courts on that elephant as well.
Environmentalist Attorney-at-Law Jagath Gunawardena noted that it has been clearly indicated that if an animal is being handed over to a temple or a Kovil or a religious site, it is clearly indicated under the permit that the animal could only be used for religious purposes. Thereby, it needs to be investigated as to from whom the animals were obtained and what are the conditions mentioned under the permits obtained by them. Photos.