The Court of Appeal today issued an order directing officials of the Department of Wildlife Conservation not to release the cow elephant named ‘Sujeewa‘ and her three-month-old baby elephant back to the claimants until September 29.

Accordingly, Sujeewa and her calf will continue to stay under the custody of the Department of Wildlife Conservation until the Court of Appeal issues a suitable order on the next hearing date.

Court of Appeal Justices Sobhitha Rajakarunaand Justice Dhammika Ganepola made this order pursuant to a writ petition filed by Centre for Eco-Cultural Studies and Justice for Animals Sri Lanka. The Court of Appeal further directed the registrar of Court of Appeal to convey the order to the registrar of Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court.

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena appearing for the petitioners sought an order taking into account the urgency of the matter. He argued that so-called owners of the elephants have made an application before Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court for the release of these elephants contrary to the existing laws of the country. Jayawardena submitted to court that the application for releasing the cow elephant and her calf back to the claimant to be heard on 24th of September. He further argued that giving of elephants back to the perpetrators who had illegally and unlawfully possessed such elephants is illegal and a gross miscarriage of justice.

Taking into consideration the facts, the Court of Appeal issued an order directing the officials including the Director General of Department of Wildlife Conservation to keep these two elephants under their custody without releasing to any other party until this petition is heard on September 29.




Sujeewa‘ is one of 14 tamed elephants recently ordered to be released back to their original claimants. Sujeewa has recently given birth to a baby elephant while being kept under the custody of Department of Wildlife Conservation. The petitioners alleged that her separation would adversely affect the well-being of the baby elephant.

The petitioners have cited Ministry of Wildlife Protection Wimalaweera Dissanayake, Director General of Wildlife Conservation ChandanaSooriyabandara, Director General of Department of National Zoological Gardens, and the Cabinet of Ministers as respondents of the petition.

The petitioners are seeking an order in the nature of a Writ of Prohibition, restraining the Director General of Department of Wildlife Conservation from registering or issuing licences and or renewals of licences in respect of tamed elephants.

The environmental organizations alleged that 14 elephants held under the custody of the Department of National Zoological Gardens as productions were released back to those accused of illegally capturing them from the wild and keeping them in their possession under fraudulent documents and without registering them in terms of the provisions of Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No. 2 of 1937 as amended.

State Minister of Wildlife Protection Wimalaweera Dissanayake had recently issued an extraordinary gazette notification to regularise 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.

The CID had earlier filed a facts report before Colombo Chief Magistrate’s court alleging that over 40 illegally caught wild elephants have been taken into Wildlife Department custody following CID investigations into a racket where illegally caught wild elephant calves were sold to third parties.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here