Bid to gift baby Elephant to New Zealand: CA defers case for mention on 21 October

Saturday, 1 October 2016 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S.Selvaanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday (29) fixed to be mentioned on 21 October the Writ petition seeking to prevent the bid to export or transport the baby elephant “Nandi” to New Zealand as a gift. 

The matter came up before Justice Lalith Jayasuriya. 

Court had already granted the Status Quo (the existing state of affairs) to remain and the Attorney General on 13 July undertook to maintain Status Quo. 

Petitioners are the Dharmavijaya Foundation, its President Olcott Gunasekera, Bodhiraja Foundation, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thero, Ven. Bowatte Indaratana Thero, Brother Lionel Peiris of the Franciscan Society, the Vice President of Sri Lanka Animal Protection Association Lorraine Margurite Bibile, its Secretary Sharmanie Desiree, Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Trust Irangani De Silva, its trustees Visakha Tillekeratne and Kumudhini Saravanamuttu and  Devaka Attugalle as well as Lalani Serasinghe Perera, Mayura Tissa Bibile, Nikita Ravin Tessera, Dr Chamith Nanayakkara, Dr Udaya Wijayawardane and Gamini Wanigaratne. 

Petitioners are persons who are actively interested and involved in the prevention of cruelty towards animals, protection of animals and the promotion of the welfare of animals. 

They cited the IGP, Director Crimes, Minister of Livestock & Rural Community Development, Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Minister in charge of the subject of Animal Welfare, Director General of Wildlife Conservation, Veterinary Council of Ceylon, Environment & Natural Resources Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Provincial Directors of Provincial Departments of Animal Health, Chief Secretaries of the Provinces, the Attorney General and others as respondents.

Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC with Rajeeva Amarasuriya, Sandamali Chandrasekera, Lakmini Warusewitane and Charitha Rupesinghe appeared for the petitioners. Senior Deputy Solicitor General Arjuna Obeysekera with Senior State Counsel Chaya Nammuni appeared for the respondents. 

Petitioners are seeking the Court to call for and examine the record including the agreement purportedly entered between the government, the Auckland Zoo and the New Zealand government, with regard to the gifting of the baby elephant “Nandi” to New Zealand. 

They are asking the Court to issue an Interim Order suspending/restraining the exportation/transportation of the baby elephant “Nandi” to New Zealand until the final determination of this application.

They are seeking an order from the Court to quash the said Agreement with regard to the gifting of the baby elephant “Nandi” to New Zealand. 

They state the bad track record of the Auckland Zoo with regard to its elephants is clearly evident as the elephant “Kashin” (not gifted by Sri Lanka) had acute foot abscesses and chronic arthritis common to elephants in captivity and she had also developed skin lesions which were not healing.

They underline that despite being on pain medication, Kashin had still showed signs of being in pain and had become depressed and withdrawn. Reports that she had died belied the fact that she had been put down by her keepers, albeit to alleviate her suffering.

They bemoan that this is exactly the fate to which any other elephant brought there will be consigned.