Colombo, Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka will give captive elephants their own biometric ID cards and ban their riders from drinking on the job under a comprehensive new animal protection law.
Many wealthy Sri Lankans – including Buddhist monks – keep elephants as pets to show off their wealth, but complaints of ill-treatment and cruelty are widespread.
The new measures are aimed at protecting the welfare of the animals and include strict rules around working elephants, as well as mandating a two-and-a-half hour bath for each creature every day.
Official records show that there are about 200 domesticated elephants in the South Asian nation, and the population in the wild is estimated to be about 7,500.
The new law requires all owners to ensure that the animals in their care have a new photo ID with a DNA stamp.
It also entails multiple rules for working elephants.
Baby elephants can no longer be used for work – not even for cultural pageants – and cannot be separated from their mothers.
No more than four hours a day is allowed to cut elephants and night work is prohibited.
There are also new restrictions on the tourism industry – as of now, no more than four people can ride an elephant at a time, and they must sit on a well-padded saddle.
Its use in movies is prohibited, except for government productions under strict veterinary supervision, as well as allowing their riders to drink while on the job.
“The person who owns or cares for such elephants should ensure that the mahout (rider) does not consume alcohol or harmful drugs while in service,” Conservation Minister Wimalaweera Dissanayaka said in a Thursday notice in a state gazette.
Owners must send their animals for a medical examination every six months.
Those who break the new law will have their elephant under state care and face up to three years in prison.
Capturing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is a crime punishable by death, but prosecutions are rare.
Animal rights activists and elephant experts claim that more than 40 baby elephants have been stolen from national game reserves in the past 15 years.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)