Captive elephants in Sri Lanka is a sad fact of life, one that is unlikely to change as Sri Lanka's roots are set deeply in tradition, still recovering from a 30 year long civil war and the Tsunami of 2004. The life of a captive elephant can be a miserable existence. We are one of the few organisations in Sri Lanka dedicated to improving the lives of captive elephants.
Captive elephants- whats the problem?
All captive elephants have owners, bu owning an elephant is expensive, they eat a lot and need extra care when things go wrong but sadly lots of money can be earned from them also. Privately owned elephants hold a lot of value and status, some owners will simply keep an elephant chained in their gardens to show off their wealth. These elephants rarely receive the care they need as there are no elephant experts on site to ensure the physical and emotional needs of the elephants. These elephants will also be inherited in wills after the death of an owner and may be passed from a caring and knowledgeable owner to an ignorant and unskilled person.
Irresponsible tourist facilities that use the Howdah heavy chairs used to carry tourists unaware that they cause huge injury to elephants like Madhu (below center). The Howdah can cause deep open wounds and spinal damage, MEF are trying to raise awareness in the hope that these cruel contraptions will one day be banned.
Or left standing outside a temple all day like Saliya (below left) sad and lonely facilities unsuitable for meeting elephants physical and psychological needs. Religion is often a convenient cover for cruelty and mistreatment.
Lack of education, is it really an excuse?
Many elephant owners, led by politics, greed and a lack of education do not take responsibility for ensuring the proper care and treatment of their animals and leave it up to the Mahout to feed the elephant, as well as earn money to feed their own families. This puts the mahouts under an enormous amount of pressure and often elephant care slips as they struggle to survive. A captive elephant will rarely receive the social contact and interaction that they need to be happy, causing them psychological problems.
Club Concept pay owners a monthly fee for the elephants, pays mahout wages and for all food and medical bills. The elephant owners do not pay for us to care for their elephant. A few owners in the past have handed over elephants into our care when they could no longer cope with the costs involved. The elephants provide rides and bathing to support their costs and the running of Club Concept.
Our average expenses are 7000 rupees per day, per elephant, this covers elephant and mahout wages and elephant food. Times this by 8 (we have around 8 elephants most of the time) and the costs add up to 56,000 rupees, that's around £300 and 380 dollars every day we need for the elephants that we currently home. We then have the added and increasing expenses of medicines and daily vitamins and minerals.
Here at MEF we provide an alternative to other elephant riding places, our elephants receive care with their individual mahout and the supporting team. They do not do heavy manual work and are well provided for with food, water and medical treatment. Regular exercise is good for the elephants and we have an enrichment program in place. We also aim to help the elephant's wild counterparts and raise awareness on responsible tourism.
How you can help.
We are currently supported by Club Concept, our volunteer program and donations. You can support us by helping raise awareness of our projects using social media such as facebook, or by adopt an elephant!
The funds that we receive cover our current elephant costs, buy medicines, support our projects aimed at improving the lives of wild and captive elephants.