Elephants are often in the news these days. Afterall “Sri Lanka” and “elephants” go hand in hand. Indeed Sri Lanka has the highest density of population of elephants in Asia.
Fortunately the National Parks offer some protection, and the elephants can be seen in the National Parks of Yala, Lunugamvehera, Wilpattu, Minneriya (near Sigiriya), and Udawalawe. However some elephants can be found outisde these protected areas, which are mainly in the dry zones of the north, east and south east. These are all wild elephants in their natural habitat.
One sure way of seeing elephants is to attend the Perahera in Kandy. This is a festival where elephants are adorned and paraded down the streets along with brightly dressed musicians and dancers. The elephants used here are domesticated elephants.
The shortage of domesticated elephants is now of great concern, as the number of elephants available for this procession has been severely reduced. The government is proposing to confiscate any domesticated elephants through a court order in order to solve the shortage of domesticated elephants available for religious purposes. Of the 132 domesticated elephants available, 52 cannot take part.
The number of elephants available is also hindered by permit issues where 20 are currently under a court order.
This year the Perahera in Kandy takes place from 8th to 18th August. Probably with a reduced number of elephants compared to previous years.