By Sarasi Wijeratne


Kalana, the six-year-old elephant, had been tranquilised and tied to a tree inside the Udawalawe national park.

An army patrol that had been close to the area at the time and had seen people running away from the spot is likely to have caused the suspects to panic and flee.

The incident had taken place late in the evening yesterday close to the park’s electric boundary fence.

A source from the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) said that it has sent its officers to the location to carry out inquiries.

‘We have to find out how these people were inside the park at that time and if they had guns how they came to have them.

Following the incident, the elephant is now in the custody of the DWC.

The elephant had initially been in the care of the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe before it had been released to the wild about one year ago.

Environmentalists have been raising the alarm about an elephant smuggling racket that started around the year 2000 but escalated between 2014 and 2015.  They point to strong evidence of it taking place with political patronage. From what is known at least 80 elephants might have fallen victim to this racket so far.

Referring to yesterday’s incident, a wildlife official said it could not have taken place without the involvement of a politician.


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