There are 23 elephant calves illegally caught from the forests owned by leading supporters of the government, said two UNP Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council members, Sandeeth Samarasinghe and Heshan Vithanage, at a PC meeting.
PC member Heshan Vithanage also presented a list containing the names of the elephants, places of capture, and places where they were kept.
He said the elephants, Singithi, Kandula, Sanju, Chutimenike, Sandaka, Panchali Sakura, Wasthu Parami and two unnamed elephants had been captured from the Habarana jungle, while Ganga Bhanu Suddi, Devumi, Samadi, Seedevi, Sanka, and another unnamed elephant had been captured in Udawalawa.
There are another three elephants whose places of capture are not known, he said, showing the pictures of the elephants to the councillors.
Today it has become a fashion for some people to keep elephants as pets; and elephants would soon become extinct as a result, he said.
Lalith Ambanwala of the Auditor General’s Department who detected the illegal capture of elephants had been transferred, he said. But Waruna Liyanage of the UPFA said he had been given a promotion and that the taming of elephants would reduce the wild elephant problem.
The council’s opposition leader Thusitha Wijemanna said these elephants would be a danger to the people when they become violent due to the lack of their mothers’ love.
Chief Minister Maheepala Herath said every possible measure would be taken to protect the wild elephants.
According to a 2012 census, there are 5,800 wild elephants in the country, and most of them live in the dry zone.(Upsara Yoshith Wijesuriya)