On 8th August 2011, Sri Lankan Wildlife Minister, Mr S.M. Chandrasena told a press conference that during the upcoming survey of wild elephants, strong young calves would be identified for capture, to be "donated" to temples for use in festivals. "Sometime back there were more than 300 tamed elephants in the country” he said, “and the number has now dwindled to around 150 of which only a few are tuskers suitable forpageants." The Minister asserted that it was the government’s responsibility to preserve the country’s traditions, and he condemned some NGOs who were opposed to this project saying that they were acting to destroy them. Sri Lanka has an ancient culture with many sacred traditions, most of which we are very happy to see preserved. However, ancient traditions from cultures all over the world are being reassessed with our modern understanding of ethics and morality, and we do not believe that cruelty to animals can be excused by labelling it ‘traditional’.
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