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The killing and dismembering of the tusker in Block 3 of Yala National Park recently brought tears to the eyes of elephant lovers. This poor animal stayed within the boundaries, marked by us to say “you are safe here”, and was still killed with a single shot to the head by inhuman poachers operating within the National Park. Further his small tusks were removed using a chainsaw. The tail was also removed because its hair is in high demand.

Why is this happening? Why can we not catch these culprits? We should do our best to stop these inhuman activities. Sri Lanka Army’s elite units can help the Wildlife Department in this effort.

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As a local saying goes, you never get fed with watching ‘Bali and Ali’. ‘Bali’ is a traditional dance form and ‘Ali’ are elephants. An elephant herd is such a delightful sight; baby elephants always playing under the watchful eyes of mother elephants; the leader, although a bit aloof, always protecting weaker ones.

My wife Yamuna’s late maternal grandmother carried the longest registered name in Sri Lanka in her birth certificate– Akkada Mukkada Weera Rabukkada Rubuke Jayagath Diyathilaka Koralege Illanganthilaka Mudiyanselage Leelawathi Illanganthilaka. She was from a noble house of the Kandyan Kingdom, which was tasked with protecting the Buddha’s sacred Tooth Relic. She lived in a Walawwa behind the Hanguranketha Raja Maha Vihara, where the Tooth Relic was taken when Kandy fell to the British in 1815. Her relatives used to worship the Relic and offer Jasmine flowers.

It is recorded that Major Skinner and Captain Gallewy killed 700 elephants each, but they were no match to Major Rogers. There is a connection between elephant killing and golf! Those days if you had a golf bag made out of the skin of a bull elephant’s penis, you were considered an important man. Your importance was further elevated if you were the hunter who killed that bull elephant. Such cruelty! Such vanity!

According to Wikipedia, King Edward VII owned a golf bag made from the skin of an elephant’s penis, a gift from an Indian Maharaja who had heard of the king’s fondness for golf and big game hunting. The elder son of Queen Victoria, who waited 60 years as Prince of Wales to become king, King Edward VII laid a golf course in Windsor and was a keen golfer.

Our elephants underwent untold suffering under the British. Major Rogers’ crimes did not sit well with Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindu estate workers who worshipped Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu God. They cursed him and he was struck dead by lightning. The story goes that even now lightning strikes his grave from time to time.

I asked how true these stories were from an old worker at the Nuwara-Eliya Golf Club. He confirmed it! Once lighting had struck the grave and even the Golf Club workshop had caught fire, he said. The poachers who killed and dismembered an innocent elephant in Yala Block 3, close to the Lord Skanda’s and Lord Ganesh’s temples, in Kataragama deserve similar punishment from God.

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