Sri Lanka cracks down on illegal elephant ownership

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For centuries, owning an elephant was seen by Sri Lanka’s Buddhist elite as a sign of prestige and authority. Many among the wealthy, who consider the animals to be divine, have long flouted laws against elephant ownership to keep a jumbo chained up in their back yard. But with illegal capture helping to drive wild populations into steep decline, the government is now cracking down, seizing the animals and launching criminal investigations against elite members of society, including a monk and a judge. Even as the country cracks down on illegal ownership, the enduring demand for elephants has the government planning to set up its own pool of captive animals to be hired out to temples for ceremonies and maintained with budget funds.