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Sri Lanka decrees 4-hour work day, 2-year maternity leave for elephants

For the first time, Sri Lanka has introduced regulations to improve working conditions of domesticated elephants following long-standing allegations of cruelty.

Tamed elephants are held by rich individuals and Buddhist temples.

Here are the key points from the Protection, Well-being and Regularization of Registration of Tamed Elephants, Regulations No. 01 of 2021 as gazetted on August 19, 2021:

1) Mahout cannot be under the influence of liquor of narcotics while taking care of an animal

2) Biometric identity card with DNA details and four photos of left and right views, head and trunk and back view with full tail.

3) Health check up every six months

4) Maximum four hours of work a day

5) No night duty

6) No work after reaching the age of 60

7) Unlimited sick leave

8) No employment of elephants below the age of five

9) No work for pregnant cows, young elephants in musth

10) Two-year maternity leave for cow elephants

11) Cannot be deployed for towing vehicles for longer than four hours

12) No acting roles unless TV or cinema production is by the state

13) Inland transport only in a truck with six or more wheels

14) Hauling truck cannot exceed 30 kmph

15) Minimum bathing time of two and a half hours daily

16) Daily walk of not less than five kilometres

17) Load carried must be less than one third of animal’s body weight

18) Maximum of four persons to ride an animal at a time

19) High voltage decorative bulbs not allowed

20) No sharp weapons, fire or any anaesthetic drug shall be used on elephants

21) Anyone who finds a lost elephant must report it to the nearest Divisional Secretary’s Office

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