In 1995, the Department of Wildlife Conservation initiated a major step towards the welfare and conservation of orphaned baby elephants; by establishing the “Ath Athuru Sevana” (Elephant Transit Home) in the Udawalawe National Park. The concept of this establishment was to look after the orphaned elephant calves until they could look after themselves when released back to the wild. Even though the general public supported this concept enthusiastically, many conservationists doubted its feasibility. Some openly opposed the initiative and tried to stop the programme.
The former head of the division of Wild Animal Health at the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Dr. Nandana Atapattu, together with other officals of the Department bravely faced these challenges.
Why they matter
Ever thought why they really matter to us?
The main objective of ETH is the rehabilitation of orphaned baby elephants in order to introduce them back to the wild.
Prior to release we have to be satisfied with their ability to live independently; therefore, while they are at ETH, we make great efforts to minimize human contact.
What we do
The Transit Home is a lively place. Feeding the calves with milk every three hours is a recurring job throughout the 365 days of the year. When there are very small elephant calves, they are fed once every two hours. The ETH turns into frenzy if the feeding times get delayed; the pathetic cry of the charges for milk is particularly agonizing to hear.
Getting them adapted to milk powder and a new environment is a special programme that calls for utmost patience.