Some of you may have visited the Elephant Transit Home (ETH), Eth Athuru Sevana, at the Udawalawe National Park. If you have been there, you would know just what a joyful experience it is to observe at close range all the elephants, especially the little ones, who reside there.
This experience would now be available from a new location as well. You may have heard that a lot of orphaned and destitute baby elephants have been found in the wilds of the North and North Central Provinces. A new Elephant Transit Home (ETH) would be built at Ritigala Yaan Oya to house the elephants found from these two provinces.
According to Wildlife Conservation Department sources, construction work of this Eth Athuru Sevana is expected to be completed by the middle of this year. It would provide a bigger home for elephants than the transit home at Udawalawe which can accommodate only 20 to 25 elephants.
However, it is currently providing accommodation to 39 elephants due to the return of some of its former inmates to the transit home after being released into the wilds.
Some of these baby jumbos have been transferred to Pinnawala due to the lack of facilities at the Udawalawe ETH. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage authorities are said to have requested the Wildlife Department to provide it with more elephants from the Wildlife Department’s transit homes.
The elephant population in the Udawalawe Park had increased from 76 elephants in 1991 to 700 by the end of 2008.
The Eth Athuru Sevana ETH is not your typical elephant orphanage. For instance, it couldn’t be more different from the better known Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. “At Pinnawala the elephants have limited freedom. That is the concept of the ETH. At the ETH we raise elephants in semi wild conditions and release them when the time comes. Some elephants released are fixed with radio collars which would transmit a pulse to help locate their wearers’ position. It is also equipped with a mortality sensor and this apparatus is used to check on the progress of the elephants that now have to fend for themselves in the unforgiving wilderness. Many more baby elephants willing to release in the near future.
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