Teen elephant dies after relentless tourist rides in Sri Lanka

Dead elephant
The appalling treatment of the same elephant was recently exposed. Photo credit: Moving Animals

Kanakota, an 18-year-old Sri Lankan elephant who had been at the centre of media coverage around abuse of elephants in the tourism industry, has died.

Shocking footage of the elephant was captured last year by animal rights group, Moving Animals, which showed him being worked to exhaustion under extreme conditions in sweltering heat.

Elephant tied up
Elephants were often tied up and abused. Photo credit: Moving Animals

Moving Animals' investigation claimed elephants used to transport tourists along the Sigiriya tourist trail were kept tightly chained and were frequently hurt with sharp bullhooks as punishment. 

Just one year on from the video being released, Kanakota collapsed from exhaustion, closed his eyes, and never woke up, Moving Animals says.

The organisation also released a photo it says captures Kanakota's death.

An investigation has been launched into Kanakota’s death, but Moving Animals says the real issue is Sri Lanka's animal welfare laws, which have not been updated in 112 years.

Under current Sri Lankan law, anyone found guilty of animal cruelty gets a fine of just 100 rupees, the equivalent of NZ$2.20.