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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 sickness.

It was good to stuff the animal’s skin and preserve it for the benefit of future generations, he said.

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