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Resident elephant – Saliya

Saliya, asian elephant, eating grass

Saliya is a 51-year-old (born around 1972) male Asian Elephant (Elephas Maximus Maximus). Although owned by the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara temple he has spent very little time there. He has been living at Veejay and Niroshan’s home (Saliya’s mahouts) for most of his life. Veejay has been Saliya’s mahout for 40 years, and now Niroshan, Veejay’s son, who grew alongside Saliya has joined the team! Veejay and Niroshan have built a strong and respectful relationship with Saliya over the years. They are both very knowledgeable and take very good care of Saliya.

Saliya has mainly participated in ‘peraheras’ over the years and worked in the tourism sector over the last 10 years. He has also occasionally worked in the timber sector for short periods of time.

Saliya has a strong but friendly character and enjoys the attention, but mostly the food given to him! He loves to eat kithul and coconut leaves, as well as spend his time under mango trees. Although he also wouldn’t mind some coconut milk rice and a few biscuits.

Since he is a male elephant he is subject to musth usually starting beginning of October. This leads to aggressive behaviour mainly due to the rush of testosterone and cortisol. Unfortunately, his musth can last up to 6 months! Our first priority, when we have sufficient funds, is to build a musth enclosure to allow Saliya to live freely during his musth.

We aim to provide him with a life free from mass tourism and work. However since he belongs to a temple he can be called upon to participate in a few peraheras per year, unfortunately, this is not under our control.

  • Saliya, elephant with Veejay and Niroshan
  • Saliya, elephant, in paddy field
  • elephant, saliya