FM calls on IGP to probe cruelty on Myanmar elephant | Sunday Observer

FM calls on IGP to probe cruelty on Myanmar elephant

2 February, 2020

The Foreign Relations Ministry on Friday has directed the Inspector General of Police to conduct an inquiry under the Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act against any ill-treatment on Myan Kumara, the elephant at Bellanwila Raja Maha Vihara, Colombo.

Foreign Relations Mininster Dinesh Gunawardena had instructed his ministry Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinghe to give the Government of Myanmar a full report in this connection after Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry appealed to Sri Lanka to stop cruelty to Myan Kumara, the elephant they donated to Sri Lanka in 2013.

Foreign Relations Ministry’s South-East Asia and Oceania Division Acting Director, Nirmala Paranavitana told the Sunday Observer that they expect a Police report in this regard by Wednesday.

The Ministry asked the IGP to send a full report on Myan Kumara elephant’s condition. A video uploaded to social media showed the animal being abused by its keepers, which caused the outrage of Myanmar.

Asked if they had discussed the issue with officials at the Myanmar embassy in Sri Lanka, she said she had spoken to Myanmar’s over the phone about the situation.

“I sincerely believe that the Ambassador has quite an opposite or a different idea about the elephant,” she said.

“He hasn’t complained about the physical condition, health, or abuse of the elephant. He had actually visited the temple, and I was told he saw the elephant.” Asked if she or any other official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had visited the temple to examine the animal, she said, “I visited the temple, but was not permitted to observe the animal at the Viharaya by those in charge of the animal.”

Paranavitana said according to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka, the Wildlife Department can only inspect the animal ownership licence and can not inspect or initiate an animal investigation.

However, she said,” the police may intervene in such matters under the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act. Meanwhile, the Mirihana police if they had carried out investigations regarding elephants in the Bellanwila temple on public complaints. Commissioner General of the Department of Buddhist Affairs, Sunanda Kariyapperuma said that they can only interfere in the matter of the temple with respect to promotions and other issues, but the treatment of the temple elephants does not come under their purview. It’s a matter for the Viharadhikari of the Temple, he said.

Diyawadane Nilame of Dalada Maligawa Pradeep Nilanga Dela said he saw the video footage uploaded to social media showing claims of elephant abuse.

Asked whether if he could identify the elephant in those videos as Myanmar Kumara, he answered in the affirmative.

He said he had seen the elephant so many times after it had paraded in peraheras. “I even offered my advice on the well-being of the animal, the Diyawadane Nilame said.