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Young elephant collapses and dies from exhaustion at popular tourist resort

Kanakota's death comes as heartbreaking footage has emerged of elephants carrying tourists up and down streets, with their legs chained and the soles of their feet worn down by walking on rough roads.

JANE WHARTON: ‘A teenage elephant has died from exhaustion after giving back-to-back tourist rides in the relentless Sri Lankan heat. The elephant, named Kanakota, collapsed after constantly walking with his legs shackled while carrying a heavy, painful seat on his back. He would have been under the constant threat of a sharp bullhook – a spear-like weapon that handlers use to control the wild animals. Campaigners have said the ‘entirely preventable’ death of the 18-year-old should be a wake-up call to people not to ride elephants.

Kanakota, a male, had spent the last four years giving rides along the busy paved streets of Sigirya, walking alongside rushing traffic. For around $30 each, tourists are taken to the ancient rock fortress in a journey that lasts up to an hour. Locals who witnessed his last few tragic hours said Kanakota did three trips in one day after an exhausting parade the previous evening.

On the fourth, which took place on October 16, he refused to move. The tourists were escorted out of the seat, then Kanakota laid down and sadly never woke up. An investigation has been launched and while there is no official cause of death, campaigners have said the elephant died from exhaustion. In the wild, Asian elephants live to an average age of 60.

The death comes as heartbreaking footage has emerged of elephants carrying tourists up and down the streets of Sigirya – Kanakota’s regular route. Their legs are chained and animal welfare campaigners say the soles of their feet are often worn down by walking on the rough roads. Families or couples will sit on their backs in a seat that causes spinal damage to the elephant, experts have said. Paul Healey, from the animal welfare organisation Moving Animals, captured the scenes in Sri Lanka’. SOURCE…

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