There lies Kanakota the elephant, may he rest in peace. The 18-year-old elephant was worked to the bone till he took his last breath and then died suddenly from exhaustion under the hot Sri Lankan sun. Tragic pictures, shared by Moving Animals, of his lifeless body roasting under a plastic tarp were posted online and in international press. His death should serve to highlight the plight of elephants used in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
Unknowing tourists spend big bucks for a chance to interact with these gentle giants; unaware that the treatment they receive behind the scene is anything but gentle. As calves, elephants are taken away from their mothers' side and beaten and prodded until their spirits are crushed.
When the elephant is considered docile enough to interact with humans, the training ends but the torture and pain continue until their dying day.
Unfortunately, the tourism industry markets elephant rides as ecotourism and an animal welfare conscious option. And unknowing tourists think they are doing something good when they are doing quite the opposite. Currently, Sri Lanka lacks real animal welfare laws that will protect elephants and other animals from being used and treated like machines.
Those convicted of abusing an elephant face an embarrassingly low fine of just 50 Sri Lankan rupees ( just 0.28 cents). There is absolutely NO incentive for elephant owners and handlers to stop abusing their animals if the fines they face are just a fraction of what they can make by offering elephant rides.
Animal laws have been found wanting and completely inadequate in fighting animal abuse and castigating the perpetrator. Without stricter punishments, these types of crimes will persist and animals and their owners will likely never get due process. Please sign the petition and ask Sri Lanka to ban elephant rides altogether and to pass a new animal welfare law that provides real animal protection and ensure abused animals get the justice they deserve. Sign for Kanakota.
Photo credit: Moving Animals