At Millennium Elephant Foundation we are concerned with the well being of all elephants, especially captive elephants as these elephants have a very hard life.
Pera Hera’s are an integral part of Sri Lankan history and culture and occur every month on the full moon or ‘Poya days’- auspicious days to Buddhists. As well as visiting a temple practicing buddhists may attend a Pera hera which is a parade full of performers acting out buddhist symbols and celebrating their faith. Its very much a lively, exciting,community atmosphere with all ages performing acrobatics, dancing and twirling fire batons for hours. In amongst all of this noise and excitement there are also elephants! They are heavily adorned in decorated covers and walk through the streets with the performers.
Part of our MVU (Mobile Veterinary Unit) Program is to visit the elephants before and during the procession with the vet team from the Kandy Faculty and our volunteer team. Sometimes the elephants (and Mahouts!) are left standing in the hot sun for many hours in the lead up to a procession and MEF were concerned- despite their thick, dark skin elephants have very sensitive skin and can get sunburn. In response to this we came up with the idea for sunshades for elephants!
Initially we thought about marquees or tents but came up with the far simpler solution of tarpaulin and ropes! Mahouts are excellent climbers and this design means that we can be far more flexible with different locations. The new sunshades will now be a regular part of the MVU kit and can be used for our visits to sick elephants.
Here is Kavari Raja modelling the new elephant sunshades!
We are coming up the busy July/ August Esala Pera hera- the biggest festival that will feature the highest number of elephants for up to ten days! We will update you with you soon with reactions to the sun shades!