Tharindu: Novelist Attempt To Save Elephants In Sri Lanka


It was on the World Elephant Day 2017 Tharindu embarked his journey by publishing his firsts ever book, The Life of Last Proboscideans: Elephants. Tharindu is still 23 years of age and carried out so much of work for the cause of protecting elephants. He is also a columnist who wrote about elephant issues to the press.  After the book launch Tharindu spoke to Earthlanka about how he stumbled upon such a subject matter and how his cause will give an effort to protect elephants.

What was your motivation to write this book.?

Well my motivation was my passion that I had for elephants. Since I was a kid I was so much interested on elephants. So much that I wanted to dedicate my entire life for them. This made me to learn about them and visit to see them for my own eyes. However as time passes by in my pre-teen (at about age 11) I was interested on writing a book regarding basic facts about elephants. My aim was to publish it soon as possible but gradually it took more than a decade of writing to get it publish. Today I am 23 years old and I am glad that I was able to publish this year, on Aug 13th 2017. We had the launch to commemorate World Elephant Day. On that day we had a minute of silence in memory of elephants that died and suffered due to human impact. Also for conservationists that scarified their life in order to save wildlife. The Chief Guest for the event was Hon. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera (Minister of Wildlife) and the keynote address was delivered by Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya (Former Director of Wildlife). Honorary address was delivered by Mr. Jayantha Jayewardene (Managing Trustee of Biodiversity & Elephant conservation Trust). I am hoping to establish a research and conservation base organization for elephants.

what was your childhood dream?

My childhood dream was to work on elephants and to look at their conservation aspects. Because since I was a kid I can remember the horrific images and scenery of dead elephants due to human-elephant conflict. So I did believe that salvation is vital if we need them on future. By very young age itself I was inspired by the work of senior conservationists and their work. I also had a habit on reading their work since a young age.

Do you think this book address solutions for the ongoing conflict between elephants and humans?

Yes. In my book there are six major chapters. Those chapters are No 1. Evolution biology and paleontology, No 2. The two species of elephants, No 3. Elephants and humans, No 4. Body and biochemistry, No 5. Social integration, behavior and the life of elephants and No 6. conservation. The last major chapter “Conservation” describes the modern day threats for elephants. These include threats for both African and Asian elephants. Today the major threat for African elephant is the ivory poaching and for Asian elephant the major threat is human-elephant conflict. In my book I have detailed the causes for these threats and certain strategies can be a potential solution for such threats. But majority of implementation should come from respective authorities and this also includes the government. There is no single solution strategy that can be implemented to minimize the conflict but there are multiple strategies that can be put forward to terminate such a conflict. In case like ivory poaching we need agreements from multilateral conventions like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The next CITES conference the COP18 will be held here in Sri Lanka in 2019; so I am fingers-crossed that it will be bountiful for conservation.

As a conservationists writer what do you think about the current situation on elephants?

It is indeed devastating to see how both the species, African and Asian elephants are suffering due to human impact. Today I can say elephants are suffering due to 3 human impacts mainly. One of them is human-elephant conflict (HEC). The main reason for this is the ever increasing human population. In Sri Lanka itself today we have an annual rate of 40-70 human deaths due to HEC and about 150- 250 elephant deaths rate due same conflict. When we look how the things are happening now it is the elephant that seems to be losing the battle. HEC is also present in other countries and in some it is much more intense than others. The second would be ivory trafficking which the African elephant is a prime target. Records mention that in Africa near to 30,000 African elephants are killed annually due to ivory. Sometimes even in a minor manner the Asian elephant is also a target. The third is the elephants’ suffering in captivity. I do believe according to the way how elephants are handled today there is maltreatment. Even this there is certain necessary steps that can be adopted to eliminate such abuse. However for all these 3 I am optimistic that we can do something that would help the betterment for the elephants.

Tell me about your experiences you had in writing this book ?

Well, since the time I started, I spent my teenage life for this work and also little part of twenties as well. So when I look back even with young age I do feel like I came through a long way. I could remember when I was a kid certain literature I read on elephants were not written for kids. In fact those were written to scientists. Some of them even included symposium proceedings. Honestly to tell I did not understand all of them hundred percent. But I was keen on reading them. I will recall a memory when I was kid once when I reading a scientific report on a research on elephants in musth; at one point it mentioned about the increasing value on blood PH due to musth period. I did had a doubt for few years about what was the real meaning of “blood PH” or “PH blood” really was. Even at school by that grade they never taught us about the “PH value”. However in later grades I got to know what PH value was. So it shows how my knowledge got blend with out of blue and with confusion. However my experiences do have variety of angles. Cannot explain all of them but one thing that I do cherish most is the patience and the determination for the passion. When I started it, I even did not had a proper idea about what are the basic steps for printing and publishing a book. But today I had improved that knowledge as well.