6 June 2024

Two mahouts from Thailand’s Forest Industry Organisation, who have flown to Sri Lanka, have met with Sak Surin, an ailing Thai elephant at Dehiwala Zoo, and have started the familiarisation process by feeding and bathing him.

The main job of the mahouts is to train the animal to enter, exit and stay in the specially-built cage, which has been flown to Sri Lanka. They have about two weeks to do the job, so the elephant can be flown home on schedule.

Kanchana Silpa-archa, an advisor to the strategy committee of the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said in her Facebook post yesterday (Saturday) that she was told by an official at the Thai embassy in Sri Lanka that the first encounter between the mahouts and Sak Surin was quite positive, as the elephant gestured for food from the mahouts.

The elephant responded to the Thai language used by the mahouts in their communication. Sak Surin was given sugarcane as a reward.

Atthaphon Charoenchansa, the acting director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said that it is a good sign that the elephant and the mahouts are getting along, adding that the two men need to spend more time with the animal to ensure its smooth repatriation by air in three weeks.