Elephant, 18, dies after being forced to carry tourists

Elephant, 18, dies after being forced to carry tourists

An elephant has died while carrying tourists on a Sri Lankan safari, animal cruelty organization Moving Animals has reported.

The animal, named Kanakota, had his legs in shackles and was forced to carry tourists on back-to-back rides in the heat, while carrying a heavy seat on his back. This was done under using a bullhook – a weapon resembling a spear that's often used to control wild animals.

In the video below, a baby elephant is forced to perform tricks: 

Images of the abuse Kanakota was subject to have been shared by the charity, Moving Animals, in a bid to discourage tourists from riding them. Campaigners described the 18-year-old elephant's death as "entirely preventable".

Tourists are charged around $30 for a journey up to an ancient rock fortress in Sigirya that can last up to an hour.

According to locals, on the day of Kanakota's death, he had already done three trips and collapsed on the fourth. Once the tourists were removed from the seat, he died shortly afterward and his body was covered with tarpaulin.

Tourists riding an elephant. Credit: Moving Animals

Recounting the shocking death, Paul Healey, from Moving Animals, said: "This young elephant's tragic and cruel death was entirely preventable.

"Until tourists refuse to ride elephants, more of these gentle giants will continue to suffer and collapse from exhaustion.

"We urge tourists to never ride an elephant, and call on the Sri Lankan government to instate a new Animal Welfare Bill that will finally offer protection to the country's amazing array of animals and wildlife."

A dead elephant's body being covered with tarpaulin. Credit: Moving Animals

In an interview with the Guardian, Maria Mossman, founder of non-profit group Action for Elephants UK, said: "Many parks advertise themselves as sanctuaries but they are not.

"Never go to a park that advertises shows, unnatural behavior, tricks or painting - and please, never ride an elephant."

In the wild, elephants can live up until the age of 60.