Sri Lanka, incredible food, welcoming people, wildlife & surfing all year. A culture worth exploring by anybody with a hunger for exploring. Although I have to stress my concern for the welfare of the elephants in a country which is becoming more urbanised & the tourism industry growing larger.
I know that i won’t be the first to have a crack at this topic but I have to express how I feel as at certain points during my trip it really affected me.
Now I’m willing to admit that I have done an incredibly over run safari in Sri Lanka at Udawalawe National Park, which in my opinion is probably the closest most of us will get to seeing free & wild elephants. But that’s not without saying as hundreds of people flock to these safaris everyday we must be affecting their natural lives.
In Udawalawe I was pretty stoked to see the elephants up close along with many other animals, but the switch came when stopped to watch a lone elephant. He (believe me it was a ‘he’) began to cross a dirt track, at which point I witnessed a jeep sharply reverse into his path, stopping the elephant from crossing. Now this was the point in which me & the one other in my car lost interest in the entire experience.
A pretty light experience compared to the following…
I made my way around the beautiful coast to Hirikitiya. Whilst there I decided to visit the Wewrukannala Viharaya Buddhist temple just outside Dikwella. Im not religious at all (for now) but I enjoy looking into others beliefs. If your nearby it could be worth a visit, with the 50m tall golden buddha statue to climb & Buddhist hell to visit & laugh at. All of which I did with much interest.
I was about ready to walk out of the temple when a swinging trunk caught my eye. Hidden behind the temple, somewhat out of view was an Elephant. But the elephant had all 4 legs chained to tree’s, I curiously crept over to see it rubbing its legs together as though to free itself from the chains & swaying back & forth, an action I had never seen from these creatures. Crouching down I watched as monks began an unrelated ceremony behind me.
Sliding out my phone I managed to sneak a photo purely for awareness purposes. I had no idea what I could possibly do. I wanted to help but honestly I struggled to look at the imprisonment & even questioned my walking away.
Still confused & unable to understand I asked 2 separate people in the temple about the elephant, even used google translate at one point. They both said the elephant had been “pursuing people” which I guessed meant attacking. Pretty hard to swallow considering in a population of 22million people only 80-100 people are killed by elephants each year, where in a population of approximately 6,000 elephants 250-280 are killed each year dude to human-elephant conflict (HEC).
Needing more answer I asked another person selling flowers outside the temple they said it will be imprisoned for years!
My complete disgust for this behaviour lead me to writing this. How is it that in an increasingly populated world we are punishing creatures who are forced to deal with this? Even more so people are sentenced to less for attacking humans than this. The final kick was that it was in a Buddhist Temple. Cementing my personal decision to not follow a belief. I know little about Buddhism but up until this point I believed them to be a harmonious, peaceful religion. One of the greatest non-violent philosophies in the world?
Im not the first to say this & won’t be the last but it seems there’s so much love for the Gods. Born from unexplainable stories. But none for the living, a being we can feel, smell, see, hear & hold our very own emotions with.
I get the argument. Should we support humans in conflict as these are our own or should we support the animal? Well I think it largely depends on the incident & punishment, not all can possibly be treated the same. Finally we have grown to become such a dominant species we need to accept conflict from this, taking up more land & destroying nature at an astonishing rate, has consequences. I mean who is to say this elephant didn’t grow up without parents due to HEC?
As always I’m just expressing my opinion & I would rather people created their own opinions through experience, therefore this doesn’t shame Sri Lanka. Just a small population of a lovely country.
For further material on Government plans to tackle this problem here’s some links for you guys to check out.
To read more positive vibes about being Gone. visit the blogs page.