May 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka's environmental organizations say that around 150 baby elephants have been captured from the forests in the island during the past seven years.
The Director of the Species Conservation Centre, Pubudu Weerarathna told The Divaina Sinhala newspaper that about 80 baby elephants that were captured illegally from forests had already died in the hands of the unscrupulous captors due to lack of proper care.
He said there are powerful individuals like politicians behind the illegal capture of wild elephant cubs and the law is not implemented properly due to this reason.
Recently media covered a number of incidents of capturing wild elephant cubs, some illegally and some producing fake permits.
The baby elephants have a high demand in the country although the government does not grant permission to capture them or to rear them.
Reportedly a high number of baby elephants are captured from the Habarana, Minneriya forest areas where there is a high density of wild elephants.
Wildlife Resources and Conservation Minister Vijith Vijayamuni Soysa has said recently that it is difficult to curb illegal capturing of elephants due to lack of a proper legal system on the subject.
The Minister has proposed using DNA tests to identify and register the elephant cubs and the environmental activists have welcomed the proposal.
It has been reported that the unscrupulous captors involved in illegal trading of wild elephants are catering to the demands of the island's tourism industry.