Millangoda tusker was never used to earn money, says owner
S.R.A. Millangoda, owner of Millangoda Raja, the tusker with the
longest set of tusks which died on Wednesday, said this elephant was
among a herd of 19 elephants they caught from Nawagaththegama in 1945.
“I was then about 25 years. A group of about 25 to 30 people were
engaged in an operation to catch elephants, putting up camp on the bunds
of the Anamaduwa Wewa for about four to five months their. Although my
father wanted to sell this elephant due to his economic plight, I
prevented him from doing so as I liked its playful nature. Two years
later after bringing the elephant to our village, we came to realise
that it was a tusker we had chanced upon,” he said.
Millangoda said being a teetotaller and non-smoker, he never intended
to earn money through unscrupulous means. As such he never used the
tusker to earn money.
The tusker was provided to participate in the Kandy Esala Pageant and
other peraheras free of charge.
Millangoda said Millangoda tusker had been very fortunate to carry
the Relics Casket in the Kandy Perahera.
“The tusker had a superior gait while walking in the Kandy Esala
Pageant. The majestic but disciplined style in which he walked along the
perahera route carrying the Relics Casket captivating the viewers
including tourists seated on the upper floor of Queens Hotel, Kandy, was
unmatched by any other tusker doing the honours in the past.
“Millangoda Raja had carried the Relics Casket in the Kandy Perahera
for over 35 years,” he said.
Millangoda said a baby tusker can be easily distinguished from a baby
elephant from the way it sucked milk from the mother’s udder.
The baby tusker sucked milk by putting out the mother’s nipple to
prevent injury to the udder from the small tusks, he said.
Millangoda said the tusker developed difficulties in eating about one
year ago and its condition worsened thereafter.
“I even got down a group of 20 Bhikkhus to chant Pirith and invoke
blessings on the tusker for good health. The tusker held the Pirith
Noola with its trunk silently during the Pirith chanting and also caught
the Ata Pirikara while it was offered to the Maha Sangha,” he said.
Millangoda’s eldest son Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Member Ananda
Millangoda said they treated the tusker as a member of their own family.
The President who learnt that the tusker had fallen ill directed the
Wildlife Department to provide nourishment to the animal, he said.
P G R Kiribanda who served as mahout to the tusker is grieving over
the loss of his charge which he looked after for several years. He said
he gave attikka, erabadu and jak leaves to the tusker to eat during its
It was good to stuff the animal’s skin and preserve it for the
benefit of future generations, he said.