By Shanika Sriyananda
The Ministry of Wildlife Conservation has introduced tough laws to prevent stealing baby elephants from wildlife parks.
Minister Jayawickrama Perera told the Daily FT that Cabinet, early this week, has approved over 40 new regulations to legally protect captive elephants and also to look into the well-being of the animals.
He said that the trend of wealthy influential people stealing elephants from wildlife parks has increased but under new laws, those who steal wild elephants would be dealt tough punishments.
According to sources, there are over 200 captive elephants in the country with the number of wild elephants having dwindled to around 7,500.
These laws would also help to take tough legal action against the owners who ill-treat captive wild elephants, he said.
“ These new regulations cover various issues including the licenses issued to the temples and the private sector, well-fare, cruelty to elephants and using the animals for work,” he said adding that the owners will be punished and their licenses will be cancelled.
According to Minister Jayawickrama, new regulations prevent young elephants from being used in tougher work like logging.
“Baby elephants below the age of five year can’t be used in parades, religious and cultural events. It is banned to use elephants below the age of 10 in tedious work,” he noted.
He said that the new regulations had looked into improving the physical condition of the animals, such as their daily diets and nutrition.
“If the owners ill-treat the animals, they will be given three-years imprisonment and will also lose their permits,” the Minister said.
The Ministry has instructed the Department of Wildlife to expand its monitoring on captive elephants and carry out evaluation before renewing the licenses.