Balangoda calf linked to baby elephant racket

By Malaka Rodrigo

The Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) raided a house in Balangoda on a tip off that a three-month old elephant calf was being kept there illegally.

According to Wildlife sources, following the tip offthe DWC’s flying squad carried out the raid in Bagewatte last morning after being on the lookout for the calf the past week.

The team headed by Upali Padmasiri had eventually located the house on Friday night and when they raided it last morning, they found the elephant chained inside the house with wounds on its ears and abdomen.

The Sunday Times learns the baby elephant was either from Habarana or the upper Udawalawe area and there were moves to register it as a calf born to a captive elephant, used for elephant safaris in Habarana.

“This racket of abducting calves from the wild and registering them as born to captive females has been going on for a long time,” a Wildlife source said.

He alleged that a well-known veterinary surgeon who was behind this racket issued letters certifying that the calves were born to mother elephants he had personally treated during their pregnancies.

According to regulations, all captive elephants should be registered with the DWC and the owner of the captive elephant has to register the birth of a new born calf within a week. Keeping an elephant without registering it, is a non-bailable offence.

Three people have been arrested, but the main suspect is evading arrest, police said.

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