YANGON: Myanmar has appealed to Sri Lanka to stop the alleged abuse of an elephant it donated to a Buddhist temple six years ago.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said it had urged the Sri Lankan authorities to punish those who harmed the animal as seen in videos in social media.
According to the Myanmar Times, the elephant, Myan Kumara, was donated by the Myanmar government to the Bellwanwila Temple near Colombo in 2013.
A few days ago, videos of the animal being abused by its keeper appeared on social media, triggering a public uproar.
One of the monks, who is taking responsibility for the temple’s affairs, expressed his sorrow over the incident, according to the Foreign Ministry’s statement.
It said Myan Kumara has been trained by elephant keepers and used in religious festivals.
In February 2018, a 77-year-old Buddhist monk died a day after he was attacked by Myan Kumara at the temple, police said.
Investigators said the monk was pushed to the ground by the elephant, but the mahout prevented him from being gored.
Elephants are considered sacred animals and protected by law in Sri Lanka.
Several Buddhist temples have pet elephants, which are paraded at annual pageants.
The number of elephants in Sri Lanka had shrunk to over 7,000 from an estimated 12,000 in 1900, conservationist said.
Myanmar’s ambassador to Sri Lanka was scheduled to visit Myan Kumara on Thursday.