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* Sri Lanka wildlife authorities to distribute elephants to Buddhist temples for cultural pageants
Mon, Aug 8, 2011, 11:16 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 08, Colombo: Sri Lanka Minister of Wildlife S.M. Chandrasena says that measures are underway to provide around 300 elephants to the temples for holding cultural pageants.

The Minister stated that the decision was in line with a request of the Dyawadana Nilame, the chief administrator of the Temple of Tooth in Kandy.

Diyawadana Nilame, Nilanga Dela Bandara has brought the dearth of tamed elephants for Buddhist religious processions called Peraheras to the attention of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Minister Chandrasena further has said that the elephants would be given to the temples which are strong enough to face the criticism of the associations of animal friends and NGOs against torturing animals.

Sri Lanka is facing a severe shortage of tamed elephants for cultural pageants. The number of tamed elephants is dwindling fast in the island and the owners of tamed elephants are requesting the government to redress the problem.

Elephants are an essential part of cultural pageants held in Sri Lanka.

The casket of sacred relics of the 'Perahera' is normally delivered by a tusker and only 19 tamed tuskers are in Sri Lanka now, according to the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tamed Elephant Owners Association, Damsiri Karunarathna.

He also said that 75 percent of the living tamed elephants are now over 60 years of age and may die within the next five years adding to the shortage.

Millangoda Raja, a famous tamed elephant of Sri Lanka who carried the sacred casket of Tooth Relic in the Kandy Esala Perahera for years, died last week at the age of 60 after a long illness.

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