A Sri Lankan tourist guide who taunted an elephant and posted the video on TikTok has been fined for animal cruelty in a case that triggered a public outcry.
In the 20-second clip the man cannot be seen but a blue vehicle with flashing lights aggressively pursues the animal off-road in the north-central city of Habarana. Walking backwards, the dazzled elephant tries to shelter behind a tree.
Shashika Gimhan Dhananjaya Rajasinghe was identified by Wildlife authorities through TikTok post and a court issued him a fine of $1,000 a sum about 20 times the monthly minimum wage in Sri Lanka.
The fine alone is not enough to deter this type of cruelty. They should have locked up his vehicle and banned him from wildlife parks.Jayantha Jayewardene – Asian elephant expert
The TikTok account of Shashika Gimhan have been taken down but the video of the elephant is still being shared on several platforms.
Sri Lanka tightened wildlife protection laws last year and brought in regulations to protect elephants, which are considered sacred and a national treasure. Capturing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is a criminal offence punishable by death, but prosecutions are rare.
Animal rights activists and elephant experts say more than 40 baby elephants have been stolen from national wildlife parks over the last 15 years.