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