The Panamure Elephant King sacrificed his life 70 years ago, on August 9, 1950, fighting valiantly for four days with the noble intention of liberating his elephant population. Those days, elephant hunting was held twice a year to catch wild elephants and then sell them. Mr. Francis Molamure, the first Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, has been running the Elephant argage for several years.
The Panamure elephant hunting held in 1950 has gone down in history as the last hunting in Sri Lanka.
On the night of March 5th of that year, a herd of 27 wild elephants was captured at the Panamure Elephant garage. Two calves were among them. The leader of the herd was an elephant about 9 feet high and 13 feet long. Panamure elephant is about 25 years old and taller than the other 24.
It is the common practice to tie the wild elephants in the barn using tame elephants, Due to the aggressive behavior of the leader of the herd, only 9 elephants have been able to tie the trees by the end of the second day.
The leader elephant could not bear the arrest of 9 elephants. So the leader’s behavior became increasingly frightening. Suddenly the ground roars and the leader chases after a tame elephant and chases after another. The elephant garage is made up of a large part of several acres of forest, so an elephant can hide in it as it pleases.
By noon on the 3rd day, the elephant’s aggression was getting worse. Later, with great difficulty, all 26 members of the group except the leader were captured. Yet, workers were ordered to capture the leader elephant anyway. Accordingly, 14 tame elephants, 28 herdsmen, and a group of supporters were trying to trap the leader. The fleeing elephant attacked three tame elephants that came to trap him and fled to attack the others.
Exactly it was an open battle between a wild elephant and 14 tame elephants. Mr. Molamure realized that the leader could not be handcuffed despite hours of hard work and thought that the leader should be allowed to go free. The garage door opened. The leader was given ample opportunity to flee. But the leader elephant had no intention of fleeing. It was clear to everyone that the leader was not ready to leave the entourage. The elephant approached the gates of the gallery but did not leave and returned to the battlefield.
It attacked the tame elephants one by one and kicked the trees to free the retinue. It was clear that Panamure elephant king was refusing to detain even one of the entourage. The wonder of true leadership was in this elephant, the animal. It’s aim was not to gain personal freedom but to win public freedom.
It struggle intensified, showing that treating all as one should be the hallmark of leadership.
The Government of Sri Lanka Animal Welfare Act states that a herd of animals must be removed from the herd within a specified period of time. When such a law was in place, the Leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Dr. N M Perera, heard that 26 elephants had been kept at the Panamure elephant garage belonging to the Speaker of Parliament Francis Molamure for several days and launched a nationwide campaign against it.
Hence, the final decision was to kill the leader and secure the rights of the other 26 elephants.
The Panamure elephant fought until the last moment. Fighting for freedom is heroic. So even though it was an animal, the Panamure elephant died as a hero.
The song “Panamure the Elephant King” echoes the courage of Panamure the Elephant King who fought for the tribe and gave his life.
Due to widespread public outcry, the government banned the holding of elephant garages in Sri Lanka from that day onwards.
This story has mentioned as a tribute to the great Panamure elephant king