Above is really awful treatment of the baby elephant at Gangaramaya Temple. This lout of a mahout is beating the elephant until his stick breaks, pulling his ears and yelling at him. This is well beyond the usual torture the poor fellow is put through, chained by two legs and unable to even turn around. I don’t think Buddhist temples have any place confining these free animals at all, but this level of abuse just goes beyond. If you’re a patron of Gangaramaya Temple or know Podi Hamdurowo, please at least get this abusive mahout fired.
I also think we should move towards not having temples ‘keep’ elephants at all. They are open to abuse or at the least unhappy confinement and it’s simply unfair to these noble and undomesticated creatures. That, of course, means giving up much-loved traditions like peraheras. Podi Hamdurowo stages the biggest perahera in Colombo but that practice – dressing up elephants and parading them amidst fire and whips – is something we need to put in our past. It is sad because I used to love the perahera, but it simply isn’t fair to the elephants.
Temples is just part of it. As Mahinda’s government fell people have been discovering elephants in the homes of officials. In a lot of cases people have denied it, but here’s some elephants that I presume were kept by the Rajapaksas themselves:
— Yoshitha Rajapaksa (@YoshithaR) June 8, 2014
There were also reports that Sajin Vaas, etc kept these animals. Mahinda also gifted elephants to China, as have many Presidents before him. Keeping these animals in captivity at all is bad, but treating them as luxury items to be kept at home or gifted is worse.
Changing the culture of casual elephant abuse is going to take time. However, this lout of a mahout could be fired immediately. Contact your local monk or, barring that, the wildlife department. Or even the Ministry of Buddha Sasana. In this case you can just go to Gangaramaya to check on the fellow and complain.