The Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court has ordered that 14 domesticated elephants held by the Department of National Zoological Gardens be released to their original owners.

Following the magisterial inquiries into their possession without proper licenses before 2015, these elephants were placed in the custody of the Department of National Zoological Gardens.

These elephants were placed at the PinnawalaElephant Orphanage and the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe.

Colombo Additional Magistrate T.J. Prabhakaran had issued an order directing the Department of National Zoological Gardens to release these elephants to their original owners for registration in line with the newly issued gazette notification.

State Minister of Wildlife Protection Wimalaweera Dissanayake had recently issued an extraordinary gazette notification to regularize the registration of tamed elephants. According to this new regulation, the Director-General of Wildlife is vested with the power to register and issue a license in respect of a tamed elephant.

Defence Counsel appeared on behalf of the owners of the questionable elephants requested the release of the 14 elephants. The CID also admitted that a gazette notification was issued in this regard by the State Minister. The CID  toldthe Magistrate to release the elephants, as per the advice of the Attorney General and the gazette notification issued by the State Minister of Wildlife Protection.

The CID, which has been investigating the alleged racket for the past five years, told the court that they were conducting investigations into 47 questionable elephants.

The CID also said that several people were indicted in the High Court in respect of eight incidents.


The prosecutors had earlier reported to court through B reports that the suspect, Samarappulige Niraj Roshan alias Ali Roshan was the mastermind behind the racket, who sold illegally caught elephants to third parties, the prosecutors alleged.

Investigations have revealed that the suspect was directly involved in selling 39 wild elephants and traded captured elephant calves for 15 years.


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