Thursday, December 22, 2011

Elephant Lore

lephants in Sri Lankan History and Culture

lephants in Sri Lankan History and Culture

Jayantha Jayewardene
Managing Trustee
Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust

Illustrations from: "An Elephant Hunt in Ceylon" The Graphic of December 3, 1887
Elephants fighting for the entertainment of nobility, 1875.
Kottiar canoes passing "Round Island"
The village of Kottiar
Native bridge over a river
The first shot
The second shot
The Death
The return-crossing the river by raft
A Veddah offers his serviceKanda Kandu, the ferryman
11.jpg (19507 bytes)
Sinnacooty, Mr. J. M., Allah Pitchei

In Sri Lanka no other animal has been associated for so long with the people in their traditional and religious activities as the elephant. This association dates back to the pre-Christian era, more than 5,000 years. Ancient Sinhalese kings captured and tamed elephants which used to abound in the country.
Various methods of capture were employed, some indigenous, others introduced by neighbouring kings and countries that conquered and ruled Sri Lanka. Gradually the number of elephants captured increased. All elephants were kept by the king in his stables. The methods of capture were refined and modified as time went on.
Elephants, suitably caparisoned, have and still take part in ceremonial, cultural and religious pageants and processions. Elephants have been used by man in his wars in Europe and Asia. They have assisted him in his logging operations and construction works. In this country too elephants have fought in wars and featured in various sports and combat during Sinhala celebrations. In India they have provided transportation for sportsmen indulging in shikars.
During the time of the Sinhala kings the elephant was afforded complete protection by royal decree. The penalty for killing an elephant was death. With the advent of the British this protection was withdrawn. Large numbers of elephants were killed by the British under the guise of sport. Not only did the British government encourage and condone killings as a sport but it also paid a bounty for each elephant killed, deeming the elephant an agricultural pest.
In Sri Lanka the variations in physical appearance amongst elephants were noticed and recorded in ancient Sinhala manuscripts. There are ten such groups or ‘castes’. These differences do not seem important now.
The first record of the association between man and elephant in Sri Lanka was recorded in the 1st Century BC on an inscription at Navalar Kulam in Panama Pattu in the Eastern Province, of a religious benefaction by a prince who was designated “Ath Arcaria” or Master of the Elephant Establishment. The Elephant Establishment was called the “Ath panthiya”. The ruins of the ancient cities in Sri Lanka abound with carvings of elephants in many forms, attesting to the close association between man and elephant.
Sinhala literature of the 3rd Century BC indicates that the state elephant or Mangalahatti was the elephant on which the king rode. This elephant was always a tusker and had a special stable called the hatthisala. The post to which it was tethered was called the alheka.
A 12th Century inscription on a stone seat at Polonnaruwa records that King Nissanka Malla sat upon it while watching elephant fights. These fights were staged for the entertainment of nobles.
A rock sculpture of an elephant on the banks of the Mahaweli River was described thus by archaeologist H.C.P. Bell: “This piece of animal sculpture is probably unique in Ceylon. Cut in full round from a rock, life-size, are the head and shoulders of an elephant whose feet the river washed when low. The elephant stands in the water, looking slightly upstream, as though hesitating to cross. At present the river in semi-flood reaches its eyes. There are signs of ‘sets’ for some building’s foundations on a boulder adjoining, but no ruins or inscriptions are known likely to afford a clue to the object of this solitary tour de force of a skilful sculptor,” (Bell & Bell, 1893). Unfortunately this rock sculpture no longer exists having been blasted probably by fishermen dynamiting fish.
The first description of the capture of elephants in 40 AD is by Pliny. Here, the information that he gathered was from the Sinhalese ambassador to the court of the Emperor Claudius.
Elephants were used on all important ceremonial occasions especially where pomp and pageantry were required. The annual Perahera in Kandy, which dates back nearly 220 years, brings together well over a hundred elephants that parade the streets during the nights on certain pre-determined days in July-August each year. New Year festivities in Sri Lanka feature elephants in various sports and competitive combat. Elephant fights were a popular form of Sinhala sport in early times and was called “Gaja Keliya”. Being built like a tank, elephants were used in war not only as a means of transport but also as an instrument of defence and offence. They were used to ram barricades and, as Ives points out “in time of war, they now and then fix a heavy iron chain to the end of their trunks, which they whirl around with such agility, as to make it impossible for an enemy to approach them at that time”.
From the earliest of times there had been a significant demand for Sri Lankan elephants from other countries. Aelian, quoted by Emmerson Tennent in1859, says that the export of elephants from Ceylon to India had been going on without interruption from the period of the First Punic War. India wanted them for use as war elephants, Myanmar as a tribute from ancient kings and Egypt probably for both war and ceremonial occasions.
The elephants from Sri Lanka were found to easily adapt for war and were considered better than those from the mainland. Their excellent qualities were well known to the Greeks even as far back as the 3rd Century BC, in the time of Alexander the Great. Onescritus, who was an Admiral of the Fleet of Alexander the Great and probably the first European to describe the trained elephants of Ceylon, has stated that the elephants from Taprobane (later Ceylon and then Sri Lanka) “are bigger, more fierce and furious for war service than those of India,”. Greek writers like Megasthenes (circa 300 BC) and Aelian (44AD) corroborate this. Sixth Century writer Cosmos Indicopleustes says that the elephant from Sri Lanka was highly priced in India for its excellence in war.
Elephants from Sri Lanka were exported to Kalinga by special boats from about 200 BC. From the port of Mantai the present day Mannar. Such exports are also recorded by Ptolemy in 175 AD.
By this time Sri Lanka had also earned a reputation for skilled elephant management. The Sinhala kings had special elephant trainers. They were the Kuruwe people from Kegalle. Training elephants caught from the wild, for both traditional purposes and war, was the responsibility of these people. Even persons (mahouts) who looked after the elephants after their training were trained by the Kuruwe people. A brass model of an elephant with a number of movable joints was used in the training of the mahouts.
Records show that even though Sri Lanka was exporting a large number of elephants in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, a number of elephants were also imported into the country after the 4th Century BC. This is apart from the gifts that the ruling monarchs of India and Myanmar, (then Burma) sent from time to time.
The Culavamsa (Ch. LXXVI) records that during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu (1153-1186 AD), King Ramana of Myanmar decreed that the practice of selling elephants from his kingdom for export should henceforth be stopped. “Moreover with evil intent, the king also set a high price on the beasts, commanding that the elephants which were sold in former times for a hundred nikkhalas of silver, or a thousand, should now be sold for two thousand or three thousand and he likewise put an end to the ancient custom of giving an elephant to every ship that bore presents to the king [of Sri Lanka].” The chronicle goes on to say that Prakrama Bahu made war on the King of Burma and subdued him. Later, the Burmese relented and said “Take henceforth from us as yearly tribute, as many elephants as are necessary.”
Records of the 12th Century AD again show that elephants continued to be imported from Burma. The export of elephants too continued and this is confirmed from time to time by writers on Ceylon - Sinhala Chronicles (15th Century), Athanasius Nikitin the Russian traveller (1470). Add-er-Razzak (1442) refers to the trade in elephants between Calicut and Ceylon. Andrea Corsall and Durate Barbosa (1514) refer to the Royal monopoly of elephants - a good elephant fetched 1,500 ducats on the Malabar Coast at that time. Ribeiro (1836) states that “As the Ceylon elephant was superior, traders were prepared to pay twice or even up to four times for them compared to elephants from other countries.”
There are a number of references in early writings to man’s association with and his use of elephants. The Mahawamsa (Sri Lanka’s chronicle of history) details many such instances, especially that of Kandula the elephant on which King Dutugamunu (200 BC), rode to war. Dutch, Portuguese and British reports and books record several instances of elepant capture, their use by the Sinhala Kings in their armies, elephant fights and the execution of criminals by elephants. In certain instances the strength of a King or Potentate was judged by the number of elephants he used in war.
The King of Kandy maintained a special unit that dealt with all matters concerning elephants including their capture, training, conservation and export. This unit was under the chief officer known as the Gajanayake Nilame. The Gajanayake Nilame, was of a high caste and received many favours, including land, from the king. The elephant catchers and keepers were from the lower castes.
During the times of the Sinhala kings, even though there were tens of thousands of elephants in all parts of the country, this animal was afforded complete protection by royal decree. Accordingly, no elephant could be captured, killed or maimed without the king’s authority. All offenders were punished by death. Unlike today the cultivators of that time could not plead that the elephants were harmed in the protection of their crops. Any depredation or damage to crops by wild elephants had to be prevented by stout fencing together with organized and effective watching by the farmers. It is interesting to note that though there were many more elephants then than now, Sri Lanka was considered to be the granary of the East.
When the Portuguese captured the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka they found a flourishing export trade in elephants. They too, quickly got involved in the elephant export trade, and at first obtained their elephants as tribute from the Sinhala people through their leaders. Thereafter they captured animals on their own. The Portuguese also set up a revenue-gathering unit, similar to the king’s organization, known as the Elephant Hunt. Abeysinghe (1966) wrote that the Portuguese maintained an annual demand of 37 elephants for export from two kraals. These were valued at 9,250 rix dollars which was equal to 15% of the total revenue of the state.
In 1507 the Viceroy of India sent a gift of a small elephant, imported from Ceylon, to King Manuel of Portugal. After seven years in Lisbon this elephant, named Annone, was presented to Pope Leo X and moved to Rome. Annone lived in Rome for three years but died after developing stomach trouble due to the variety of food given to it by visitors and admirers. There is a memorial in Rome to Annone the first elephant in the Vatican (Hulugalle, 1969).
The King’s Elephant Unit continued to operate within the Kandyan kingdom even after the Portuguese occupation of the Maritime Provinces. Latterly however, the function of the King’s Elephant Unit was only to supply the king’s army with elephants. This was because with the development of cannons and musketry, the elephant was both frightened and vulnerable, and its export demand as an instrument of war was greatly reduced. During the reign of the Portuguese the person in charge of the Elephant Hunt was called the Gajanayake. The Gajanayake was in charge of stables at Matara. This was a large establishment. In 1697 there were 97 elephants in the stables at Matara. Baldeus wrote, in 1704, of a place in Matara where captured wild elephants were tamed before they were sold to buyers who came from the Coramandel Coast and Bengal. A very large stable had been built to house these animals. These stables at Matara are the site of the present Kachcheri. The animals apparently were bathed twice a day in a nearby river, very likely the Nilwala. Tame elephants were used as monitors and trainers.
Those people who were sent into the jungles to look for suitable herds of elephants to be captured in kraals were called Baddenas. When the herds were sighted, the Dissawa of the area was informed and he in turn gave instructions for arrangements to be made to hold the kraal.
The men, numbering over a thousand, were divided into four groups under a leader called a Hattrebethmarale. The Aratchies were those in charge of the trappers who noosed the elephants once there were inside the Kraal and also trained the captured elephants.
In 1586 the king of Kandy, Rajasingha I, led an army which included a strong force of 2,200 highly trained elephants for fighting and for other services, and laid siege on the Portuguese fort in Colombo. The siege however, was not successful.
It is recorded that, in 1706, the king of Kandy had in his stables over 300 tuskers. The elephant was used less and less for war and subsequently only for ceremonial occasions.
In 1656 the Dutch laid siege on the Fort of Colombo held by the Portuguese. Ribeiro, the Portuguese soldier and historian, records that all the elephants in the Fort excepting one, were eaten by the defenders as they ran short of food after a time. Only one elephant was spared because it was needed to carry timber to repair the defences that were being damaged by the attackers.
Robert Knox, a Scotsman, who was a prisoner in the Kandyan kingdom for nearly 20 years, writing in the 17th Century, stated “that the King makes use of them (elephants) as executioners: they will run their teeth [tusks] through the body, and then tear it in pieces, and throw it limb for limb. They have a sharp iron with a socket with three edges, which they put on their teeth at such times; for the elephants that are kept have all the ends of their teeth cut to make them grow better, and they do grow out again.
Sirr (1850) also says that elephants were used as executioners of criminals, by training them to crush the victim’s limbs and placing one of its legs on the man’s body, tear off the limbs. Fortunately, the use of the mild tempered elephants for such gruesome executions has long been stopped.
Pybus states that the Dutch had to obtain permission from the king of Kandy to capture elephants which were within his domain. The king generally agreed to the Dutch capturing 20 to 30 animals each year, but the Dutch constantly exceeded this figure, capturing around 150 each year and 200 in one year. They continued to use the elephant stables at Matara referred to earlier.
Elephants were also exported by the Dutch from Karativu island. The elephants were driven into the Jaffna peninsula by a shallow ford that separated it from the mainland. This ford has now been bridged and given the name Elephant Pass. The Dutch held an annual sale of elephants in Jaffna. Elephants caught in Kraals and those received as tribute were sold there. Buyers from the Coramandel and the Bengal coasts continued to attend these sales regularly.

Sri Lankan elephants
Sri Lankan elephant

The traditional methods of capture by noosing etc., were practised for a much longer period. However, in 1761 the Dutch Governor Becker made a decree prohibiting the use of pits and nooses for the capture of elephants. This was in a bid to keep the mortality rate among the captive elephants low. The form of noosing practised in northern Ceylon was different to the noosing methods of the Eastern Province and other parts of the country. A large noose was suspended from a strong tree with a man or several men on the tree to manipulate the noose. Elephants were then driven towards the tree with the noose. With this ban, kraaling became the only method of capture that could be employed.
When the British captured the Maritime Provinces from the Dutch in 1796, and later the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, they continued the capture of elephants for some time but on a low-priority basis. The British however, indulged in the shooting of elephants as a form of sport. Elephant populations that had been able to withstand the detrimental effects of capture all these years now started diminishing rapidly with the wanton and indiscriminate destruction of the elephant herds.
Major Thomas Rogers is credited with having shot over 1,500 elephants. This works out to an average of one elephant being killed by him every day for four years. Two others, Captain Galleway and Major Skinner are reputed to have shot half that number each. Many other ‘sportsmen’ have shot in the region of 250-300 animals during this time.
As the elephant was a threat to the agricultural activities of the rural population, the British provided guns freely to villagers to keep away the marauding elephants from their cultivations. This action, which seemed necessary at that time, added to the destruction of the elephant. Farmers, who had hitherto protected their crops from marauding elephants by other means, now had a much easier method. They shot at them and either maimed or killed them.
The British were also interested in developing plantation crops in addition to subsistence crops. British planters, who were opening up the railways and roads along with coffee and later tea plantations, also shot trespassing elephants at will. Here again the purported protection of their crops seemed to justify their actions. The planters combined their sport and the protection of their plantations and shot elephants at will, so much so that the once large elephant population in the hills dwindled rapidly.
The British did away with the Elephant Department started by the Sinhalese and the Elephant Hunt maintained for the occupied areas by the Portuguese and the Dutch. They also greatly reduced the number of kraals that were held. In fact in 1828 the British passed a law prohibiting the capture of elephants except for the government. This law was rescinded in 1831. The Kandyan chiefs, however, continued holding kraals and it is recorded that from 1800 to 1900, fifty two kraals were held. The last Kraal was held in 1952.
Elephants at Pinnawela elephant orphanage

Each morning and afternoon 14.00 the animals are walked 400 meters to the river Maha Oya for a two-hour bath. Photo © Guillaume Rebis
Collection Kept totally 110, 72 present (23,43,6), 51 births, 26 relocated, 12 deaths
Location Rambukkana Road, Kegalle, Sri Lanka
Type: orphanage, founded 1975, firs

t elephant arrived 1975

Pinnawela orphanage is situated northwest of the town Kegalla, halfways between the present capitol Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife department. This 24 acres large elephant orphanage is a also breeding pace for elephants, twenty elephants were born since 1984, and it has the greatest herd of elephants in captivity in the world.

View Ooty in a larger map

The difference between the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala and Ath Athuru Sevena Transit Home at Uda Walawe is that at the Transit Home these baby elephants once cared for are released to the wilds when they reach a certain age.

1975: 5 baby elephants

1978: 12 elephants, of those 5 babies.

1997: 56 elephants, and in

1998: 63 elephants

2000 70 elephants,

2003 65 elephants,


The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on a twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. In most of these cases the mother had either died or been killed. In some instances the baby had fallen into a pit and in others the mother had fallen in and died. Initially this orphanage was at the Wilpattu National Park, then shifted to the tourist complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo.

From the Dehiwala Zoo it was shifted 1975 to Pinnawela. At the time it was shifted the orphanage had five baby elephants which formed its nucleus.It was hoped that this facility would attract both local and foreign visitors, the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage.

There are only a few elephant orphanages in the world. Pinnawela has now become one of the bigger orphanages
and is quite well known world wide.

In 1978 the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program launched in 1982. When the zoo took over there were twelve animals five of whom were babies. In time more baby elephants were added to the original herd of five. It was observed that though older females could be added it was not possible to add older males to the herd.

1997 there were 52 animals of which there 10 were babies under 3 years of age. There were five mahouts for the twelve elephants when the orphanage was taken over 1978 and now there are twenty mahouts. This number is inadequate to manage the increasing and growing number of elephants.
Daily actiivities

At Pinnawela an attempt was made to simulate, in a limited way, the conditions in the wild.
Animals are allowed to roam freely during the day and a herd structure allowed to form.

08.00 The babies are fed on milk in the mornings and allowed to range freely on the 12 acres large grassland.

10.00 Each morning and afternoon 14.00 the animals are walked 400 meters to the river Maha Oya for a two-hour bath.

Beteween 16.30 and 1800 in the evening the animals are taken to their stalls and tethered for the night.

They are then given their evening feed which is milk again for the babies and leaves for the older ones. Plenty of food and water is available.

The leaves are mainy Cocunut leaves (Cocos nucifera), but also branches from Jackfruit
(Artocarpus integra), leaves, branches and logs of Kitul palm tree (Caryoty urens),
from There is no stress or threat to the animals.

The elephants are stall fed. There is very little food material that they can gather from the premises of the orphanage except grass. Large quantities of food are brought in daily. Jackfruit, coconut, kitul, tamarind and grass form the bulk of the food given to the elephants at Pinnawela.

Each animal gets approximately 75 kg of green matter a day and in addition each gets 2kg of a food mixture containing maize, rice bran, powdered gingelly seed and minerals. They have access to water twice a day from the river Maha Oya that runs by the Orphanage.

There is one female named Sama which was brought in from the northern part of the country, where there is an ethnic conflict, with the lower part off ts front foot blown off by a land mine. This animal is growing up and is coping with that leg about six inches shorter than the other.
Breeding history

The conditions at Pinnawela are conducive to breeding.
Initially the breeding animals consisted of males Vijaya and Neela and females Kumari, Anusha, Mathalie and Komali. Upto the middle of 1998 there have been fourteen births, eight males and six females at Pinnawela, with one(1) second generation birth early 1998.

The father of the first three calves born at Pinnawela was Vijaya. It was not possible to determine the father of the next calves since many males used to mate with the females in oestrus. Now through DNA fingerprinting the fathers of three have definitely been identified.
Vijaya and Kumari have produced three calves at intervals of five and four years.

The first birth at Pinnawela was in 1984, a female, to Vijaya and Kumari who were aged 21 and 20 years respectively at the time of the birth. In 1993 Vijaya and Kumari were 30 and 29 years respectively.

There are other records of the birth of elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka but most of these are off females that had been captured after they had conceived in the wild. There are also records of tamed elephants having mated with other tamed elephants and giving birth. These are however few and far between.

The other elephant deaths in recent times are as follows with the relevant date and cause of death: Vijaya - September 11, 1999, brain cancer, Honda Kota - February 20, 1999, severe injuries to the trunk and body at the time it was handed over by the Wildlife Department, Binari - January 3, 2003, head injury and paralysis, baby elephant born to Lasanda - March 20, 2004 dashed on the ground by the mother and baby elephant of Nikini - April 22, 2004, born dead.


In 1997 and 1998 research was conducted in Pinnawela through a joint venture by Institute of Wildbiology at Vienna University in Austria and the Zoological Institutes of Colombo and Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, under the supervision of Dr. Fred Kurt. Veterinary students from the Universities collected datas about body messurements and growth, food assimilation, social interactions, sleeping behaviour, tool-using, and sterotypical behaviours, later publicated in different scientific medias.


(Asst. Curator)
Elephant Orphanage
Sri Lanka

Mahout´s Names

S.D. Jayaratna
H.A. Somaratna
R.W.A. Gunaratne
I.S. Mitreepala
K.G. Sumanabanda (fourth generation mahout)

Information provided by Jayantha Jayewardene, Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust, 615/32 Rajagiriya Gardens, Nawala Road, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka, Dr. Fred Kurt, Institute of Wildbiology at Vienna Veterinary University, and Wayne Jackson, Canada.

Here in Pinnawela is also the three-legged elephant Sama, who by two years of age stepped on a landmine which blew her right frotfoot away. Since then she is walking on three legs. She is now twelve and will suffer from considerable discomfort in the future due to changes in her spina, because of her annatral body position, trying to balance the body weight on three legs.

There is ambitions to train her for a specially made Prostestis, see for more information.


Fred Kurt, (1974) Remarks on the social structure and the ecology of the Ceylon elephant in Yala national Park.
IUCN Publications new series 24 (1) 618-634.

Fred Kurt and J. Kumarasinghe, (1998) Remarks on body growth and phenotypes in Asian elephant.
Ecological genetics in Mammals III, Acta Theriologica, Suppl. 5: 135-153.

Sources, among others

Wayne Jackson, Canada**Jayantha Jayewardene, Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka
Geburt und Jugendendwicklung von Asiatischen Elefanten -Beoabachtungen aus der Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary von Sri Lanka, Zeitschrift des K├Âlner Zoos, nr 2 1999, by Fred Kurt, Birgit Dastig, Sandra Petzhold, Julia Rastelli, Judith Schmelz, Verena Tragauer, Claudia Sacha.

More about Kegalle

Pinnawela elephant orphanage has 72 living Asian elephants (23,43).
Name - stud nr.
Species - Sex Status Origin - birth Age Parents Arrival date
unknown -
EM - FC wild 2010
1 x 2010-12-00 from
unknown location
Thilamalai -
EM - FC wild
? x from
Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Home (ETH)
notnamed -
EM - FC captive-born 2011-02-17
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 0 x 2011-02-17
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Kira -
EM - wild
? x from
Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Home (ETH)
notnamed -
EM - FC captive-born 2011-03-17
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 0 x Menika 2011-03-17
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Suranimala -
EM - FC unknown
Unknown ? x
Kiriya -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x
unknown -
EM - F FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Thilaka
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Ninja -
EM - F FC wild 1985
Unknown Sri Lanka 26 x
Thammenna -
EM - F FC wild
Sri Lanka ? x from
unknown location
Mathali (Mathalee) -
EM - F FC wild 1970
Unknown Sri Lanka 41 x
Noni -
EM - F FC unknown
Sri Lanka ? x from
unknown location
Soma -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x
Khema -
EM - F captive-born 2001
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 10 x Sukumali 2001-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Anusha -
EM - F FC wild 1949
Unknown Sri Lanka 62 x 1986-00-00 from
Sri Lanka National Zoological Gardens (Dehiwela Zoo)
Sama I -
EM - F FC captive-born 1987
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 24 Vijaya x Mathali (Mathalee) 1987-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Kamani -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x
Janitha -
EM - F FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Mahaweli (Mahavali)
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Mahaweli (Mahavali) -
EM - F FC wild 1981
Unknown Sri Lanka 30 x
Lasanda -
EM - F FC unknown
? x from
unknown location
Anjali -
EM - F FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage Sri Lanka ? x Mayuri
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Anuradhika -
EM - F FC captive-born 1993
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 18 Vijaya x Anuradha 1993-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Thilaka -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x
Bharathi -
EM - F FC captive-born 2007
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 4 x Amali 2007-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Anuradha -
EM - F FC wild 1982
Unknown Sri Lanka 29 x
Nikini -
EM - F FC unknown
? x from
unknown location
Sandalee (Sandali) -
EM - F FC unknown
? x from
unknown location
Kumari -
EM - F FC wild 1965
Unknown 46 x
Amali -
EM - F FC captive-born 1994
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 17 Vijaya x Mathali (Mathalee) 1994-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Shanthi -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x
Komali (Komalee) -
EM - F FC wild 1971
Unknown Sri Lanka 40 x
Shermi -
EM - F FC wild
? x from
unknown location
Rejina (Rajina) -
EM - F FC wild 1982
Unknown Sri Lanka 29 x
Dinuda -
EM - F FC captive-born 2009-05-24
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 2 x Sandalee (Sandali) 2009-05-24
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Sapumali -
EM - F FC unknown 1997
Unknown 14 x
Mihiri -
EM - F FC captive-born 2005
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 6 x Menika 2005-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Sukumali -
EM - F FC captive-born 1984-07-05
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 27 Vijaya x Kumari 1984-07-05
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Punchi -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x
Thamara -
EM - F FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Thammenna
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Menika -
EM - F FC captive-born 1989
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 22 Vijaya x Komali (Komalee) 1989-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Sugala -
EM - F FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Shermi
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Ranmali (Ranmalee) -
EM - F FC wild 1982
Unknown Sri Lanka 29 x
Uthpala -
EM - F FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Rejina (Rajina)
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Sama -
EM - F FC wild
Unknown ? x 1995-00-00
Pali -
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x Ranmali (Ranmalee)
Madhavi -
EM - F FC captive-born 2005
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 6 x Mathali (Mathalee) 2005-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Binari -
EM - F captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Shermi
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Mayuri -
EM - F FC wild 1983
Unknown Sri Lanka 28 x
Suranganee -
EM - F FC unknown
Sri Lanka ? x 1997-00-00 from
unknown location
Pandu -
EM - M FC wild 2005-08-00
Unknown Sri Lanka 6 x 2005-09-00
Senarath -
EM - M FC captive-born 2002
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 9 x Sukumali 2002-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Raja -
EM - M FC wild
Unknown ? x
Jayathu -
EM - M FC unknown
Sri Lanka ? x from
unknown location
Atlas -
EM - M FC wild
Unknown Sri Lanka ? x 2009-01-11 from
Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Home (ETH)
Wasamba -
EM - M captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Anuradha
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Wishwa -
EM - M FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Kiriya
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Kanaka -
EM - M FC captive-born 2009-06-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 2 Jayathu x Suranganee 2009-06-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Charaka -
EM - M FC captive-born 2006-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 5 x Anuradhika 2006-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Vikum -
EM - M FC captive-born 1988
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 23 x Kumari 1988-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Rangiri -
EM - M FC captive-born 1989
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 22 Vijaya x Anusha 1989-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Buwaneka -
EM - M FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Mahaweli (Mahavali)
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Gajaba -
EM - M FC captive-born 2005
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 6 x Kumari 2005-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Tharindu -
EM - M FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Sama I
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Arjuna (Kandula VI) -
EM - M FC captive-born 1997
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 14 Vijaya x Sukumali 2009-06-00 from
Panagoda army camp
Pinnawala -
EM - M FC captive-born 2000
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 11 x Mathali (Mathalee) 2000-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Udara -
EM - M FC captive-born 2009-04-04
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 2 x Uthpala 2009-04-04
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Vidula -
EM - M FC captive-born 2007-08-25
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 4 x Sapumali 2007-08-25 from
Aruna -
EM - M FC captive-born 1994
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 17 Vijaya x Komali (Komalee) 1994-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Mahasen -
EM - M FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Kamani
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Sanka I -
EM - M FC wild 1989
Unknown Sri Lanka 22 x
Asela -
EM - M FC captive-born
Pinnawela elephant orphanage ? x Anuradha
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Nandimithra -
EM - M FC captive-born 1995
Pinnawela elephant orphanage 16 Vijaya x Rejina (Rajina) 1995-00-00
Pinnawela elephant orphanage


Elephants in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is a small island of 65,000 square miles. It has a population of 20 million people. It is also home to a wild elephant (Elephas maximus) population of approximately 4,500 to 5,000. The man-elephant ratio is 5000:1. About 5 square km of land is needed to support an elephant in its forest habitat.

This wild population is declining. The increasing human population, with its demand for jungle land for development from the elephants habitat, is causing problems to the wild elephant population. Reducing habitats and the resultant Human-Elephant Conflicts, which records the deaths of both the humans and elephants, is the greatest threat to Sri Lanka’s wild elephants population.

The Sri Lankan people have had a long association with the elephants. During the reign of the Sri Lankan kings over 2000 years ago, elephants were caught, tamed and used in large numbers for the large scale and massive construction works that they initiated. Large palaces, temples and vast reservoirs have been built with the aid of elephants.

Initially there were elephants all over the country except in a few coastal areas and the Jaffna peninsula. During the reign of the Kandyan Kings, who ruled in the central hills, elephants were caught and tamed for many uses. The Kings used them for war against invaders, ceremonial occasions and religious occasions. They even exported them to India, Burma and Egypt. The king was the only person who could capture wild elephants.

With the Portuguese capturing maritime provinces of the country, they introduced the Kraal or Keddah method of capture practiced in India. The Dutch and the British, who conquered and ruled the country subsequently also continued the capture of elephants mainly by kraaling. Though some of these elephants were used by the rulers for domestic purposes, they were mainly exported since there was a big demand abroad for Sri Lankan elephants.

With the advent of the British, who subsequently ruled the whole country, the elephant population was greatly reduced. The British indulged in shooting elephants as a sport and as a result a large number of elephants were destroyed. They declared the elephant as an agricultural pest and armed the villagers with guns to enable them to protect their crops from elephants. They even paid a bounty for each elephant killed. British planters, opening out jungles lands in the hill country to plant tea and coffee, also shot elephants in the montane forests thereby driving the remnant herds down to the lowlands. There are no elephants in the hill country now except for a small herd that migrates occasionally.

Elephant population and distribution

Prior to the large scale destruction of forests, elephants enjoyed a high population and a wide distribution throughout the island. Today, except for a small remnant population in the Peak Wilderness area, elephants are restricted to the lowlands, especially in the Dry Zone. Over the past 200 years, human land-use has forced the elephants from the wet and fertile regions of the south-west of the island to much drier regions.

With the exception of Wilpattu and Ruhuna National Parks, all other protected areas are less than 1,000 km2 in extent. Ten areas are less than 50 km2 and hence may not be large enough to accommodate the annual home ranges of the elephant populations. This problem was overcome to a certain extent in the Mahaweli Development area, by linking protected areas such as the Wasgomuwa National Park, Flood Plains NP, Somawathiya NP, and Trikonamadu resulting in an overall area of 117,194 ha (or 1,172 km2) of contiguous habitat for elephants. However elephants in this country are not wont to use corridors designed by man. About 70% of the elephants' range extends outside the protected areas, into human settlements and agricultural areas.

The number of elephants in Sri Lanka today is but a fraction of what existed about a hundred years ago. From a population well over 10,000 elephants in 1796 the figure came crashing down to less than 2000 in the mid 20th century. Different figures were given by different people on the number of wild elephants.

During the first half of this century, Sri Lanka had some of the best, and probably the most wildlife conservation areas in Asia. Most of them were located in the low country Dry Zone, where human pressure was not serious enough to prevent the recovery of elephant numbers. The recovery was slow at first, but under the management of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), the number of elephants seems to have picked up somewhat in the sixties. McKay, in 1973, estimated a minimum population size of between 1,600 and 2,200 animals, while Thilo Hoffmann, in 1977, suggested a much higher total of 4,000.

Estimates of elephant numbers in the wild in Sri Lanka vary and this underlines the difficulty of counting even such large animals in the dense and tangled vegetation of its habitat. The DWC carried out a survey of elephants in much of the safe areas of the island in June 1993, and arrived at a minimum of 2,000 elephants in the wild in the five regions: North-western, Mahaweli, Central, Eastern and Southern.

Today the elephant population estimate is between 4,000 and 5,000 of which between 2,000 and 2,870 occur largely in the protected areas. All these estimates may turn out to be underestimates, given the difficulty in counting elephants in the scrub forest.

The number of elephants in captivity too has declined from about 670 in 1955 to anything between 140 and 150 today. The distribution of tamed elephants is quite distinctive and does not overlap with that of the wild elephants. They appear to be confined to 14 smaller districts out of a total of 22, in the south-west quarter of the island.

Elephant and mahout: the age old relationship

Human-Elephant Conflict

With the reduction of their habitats elephant populations have broken up and some herds have got pocketed in small patches of jungle. With their movement restricted, especially when food and water resources are depleted, elephants wander into new cultivated areas, which were their former habitat, in search of food. Elephants find ready source of food in these cultivated areas, but wild elephants are unwelcome neighbours in agricultural areas.

With their large size and equally large appetites, elephants can easily destroy the entire cultivation of a peasant farmer in a single night. Therefore the farmers look upon the elephant as a dangerous pest and would rarely regret its disappearance from their area. Elephants are incompatible with agriculture unless the damage they cause is compensated the anger and frustrations of the farmers will increase. Thus the conflict between man and elephant has become the most serious conservation problems facing the DWC in Sri Lanka, where a combination of deforestation, agricultural expansion, and human population growth has substantially reduced the habitat that was once available to the elephant.

The ecological and social costs of clearing forests to resettle villagers have proved to be very high. Wild elephants have lost so much of their range in Sri Lanka that they are now forced to prey on the communities that have displaced them.

This has often been viewed as the crux of the human-elephant conflict. Since 1950, a minimum of 4,200 elephants have perished in the wild as a direct result of the conflict between man and elephant in Sri Lanka. The conflict has escalated in the recent past. During the last twelve years alone, a total of 1,464 elephants were killed, with 672 humans being killed by elephants.

An elephant killed in Tissamaharama

The Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) has identified several areas where the elephant-human conflict has become serious. The DWC has adopted certain conservation measures to mitigate the human-elephant conflicts. They included the use of thunder flashes, crackers, noise, etc but the elephants soon learn to ignore these as bluffs.

When these initial efforts failed, the DWC adopted other measures. They were;

a) the establishment of elephant corridors
b) increasing the extent of protected areas
c) translocation of troublesome elephants
d) driving elephants to new locations
e) erection of electric fencing
f) ex-situ conservation
g) the integration of elephant conservation with economic development

Another important action was the government formulating and adopting National Policy for Elephant Management and Conservation.

A herd of elephants in Udawalawe National Park

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is the home for about 60 elephants, out of which many are baby elephants found, abandoned or orphaned in the wild. They are being cared, fed and trained by the wild life authorities. The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when one will have the opportunity of seeing the baby elephants being bottle-fed. Also could accompany the elephants to a river close-by and see the elephants having their daily bath.

It was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on a twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. In most of these cases the mother had either died or been killed. In some instances the baby had fallen into a pit and in others the mother had fallen in and died.

Initially this orphanage was at the Wilpattu National Park, then shifted to the tourist complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo. From the Zoo it was shifted to Pinnawela. At the time it was shifted the orphanage had five baby elephants which formed its nucleus. It was hoped that this facility would attract both local and foreign visitors, the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage.

In 1978 the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program launched in 1982. At Pinnawela an attempt was made to simulate, in a limited way, the conditions in the wild. Animals are allowed to roam freely during the day and a herd structure allowed to form.
The Department of National Zoological Gardens has set up an orphanage for baby elephants at Pinnawela which is about 13 Km. from Kegalle Town. on the Kegalle- Rambukkana Road.

Kegalle is 77 Km. from Colombo on the Colombo- Kandy road and the turn off to the orphanage is at the Karandupona Junction.

The orphanage was established to feed, nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their mothers. Often the young ones fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water during drought period. Other inmates at the orphanage are those displaced from their natural environs by development projects or those found diseased or wounded.

The orphanage is 16 years old. The animals that were brought during the initial years are now capable of breeding and have in fact bred.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage 90Kms (On Rambukkana Road) Tel: 035-65804

The first birth at Pinnawela was in 1984, a female, to Vijaya and Kumar who were aged 21 and 20 years respectively at the time of the birth. Initially the breeding animals consisted of males Vijaya and Neela and females Kumari, Anusha, Mathalie and Komali. The father of the first three calves born at Pinnawela was Vijaya. It was not possible to determine the father of the new calves since many males used to mate with the females anoestrus. Now through DNA fingerprinting the fathers of three have definitely been identified. Vijaya and Kumari have produced three calves at intervals of five and four years. In 1993 Vijaya and Kumari were 30 and 29years respectively. Upto the middle of 1998 there have been fourteen births, eight males and six females at Pinnawela.

Elephants in Yala
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park Situated 309 km. south of Colombo, Yala is approximately 1,259 in extent and is located in the southeastern corner of the island. Its northern boundaries border on the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and it has the added bonus of a scenic ocean frontage.

The terrain is varied flat plains alternating with rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. Water holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. The specialty here is the large numbers of elephants.

Life Style of Elephants
Elephant is the star of Sri Lanka’s wild life and the largest land animal in the island. among the two verities of African elephants (elephas coxenda) and Indian elephants (elephas maximize maximize), in Sri Lanka you find Indian elephants and considered to be intelligent than their African counterparts hence domesticated.

Although there have been about 36000 elephants with the start of this century it has reduced up to about 2000 due to pouching. according to the recent records about 2000 of them scattered all over the country in small pockets and about 500 of them are domesticated.

  is dedicated to help these endangered species and has sofa become a success. Also few National parks like “Udawalawe”, “Lahugala” are mainly reserved for wild elephants. Major attraction of is wild elephants.

Any given time you can see large number of baby elephants and female elephants. In a herd you always find female elephants and sometimes herds of male elephants too could be seen. in case babies are looked after by mother, aunt or another female elephants and male elephants are loners and never live in a group and are attracted in to a group during the mating season (from September to October) only and most of the parks are closed for visitors during this period.Their average height (height is measured to the shoulder) goes to about 8 feet (2.5m) and 1800 Kg in weight and consume about 200 kg of foliage and grass per day and plenty of water for drinking and bathing.

Female elephants give a birth once in 4 years and 2-3 babies in their life span. get 4 sets of teeth and every 10 years a new set of teeth is coming to get the last set when they are about 40 years old. walk about 20 miles per day and young female elephants are reedy for mating when they are 13 years old. very active in the night and most of them sleep under large trees in the day time. only a few tuskers can be seen in Sri Lanka due to brutal killings to get their tusks due to high value. However new laws has introduced to protect them and let tomorrow's people too see them.

Some people believe that they have grave yards and come near to a water resource when they are about to die…some do not believe it and say ..when they are old their teeth are wasted and difficulty of consuming heavy branches of trees made them come to a place where there is grass and water.

Elephants & Festivals
Esala Perahera For two weeks at the end of July and in to the first few day's of august, the hill own of Kandy is transformed to the way it was before it fell to the British in 815. Elephants parade the street at night, officials and chieftains wear traditional costume and dancers leap to the timeless rhythm of the drums. It is known as one of the world's grandest and most spectacular street parades.

It is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera when people give thanks in song, dance and pageantry for a bountiful harvest. Esala also signifies man's strength and velour in having conquered and tamed the wild elephant.

The significance of this perahera dates to 310 AD when the tooth relic was brought from India. Before then there was an annual procession to pay tribute for the harvest and to ask the gods for sufficient water for the next crop. Asking for water is still the main reason for the Esala Perahera and is way the chief lay official of the temple of the Tooth is called the Diyawadana Nilame for diya is the sinhala for water. the last ritual of the perahera is the water cutting ceremony.

On the night before the perahera begins, the dancers and drummers gather together and rehearse. In ancient times it was the barber, or pannikaya, who show to the costumes of each participant. While the title remain, the pannikya who personally checks everything. From the sending of the postcards asking the dancers and drummers to come, to seeing them off after the celebrations, Chief Pannikya and the four other pannikyas from the four devales (shrines) are responsible for all the arrangements, under the Diyawadana Nilame. The perahera itself begins only after the tooth temple astrologer has charted the coures of the planets and determined the Nekath Welawa. the auspicious time. When studying the course of the planets, he bears in mind that it is customary to end the perahera on Nikini poya day, the full moon day of August.Before the perahera start there is the kap hituweema ceremony. A kap ruka is a celestial tree that bestows anything wished for. only a few are witness to the ceremony when a 45cm - long piece of wood obtained from a jak tree is planted according to custom in the ground of each of the four shrines. jak is a tree whose fruit is sometimes used as a substitute for rice in a villager's diet.

Air Pollution Causes and Effects

Air Pollution Causes and Effects

Humans probably first experienced harm from air pollution when they built fires in poorly ventilated caves. Since then we have gone on to pollute more of the earth's surface. Until recently, environmental pollution problems have been local and minor because of the Earth's own ability to absorb and purify minor quantities of pollutants. The industrialization of society, the introduction of motorized vehicles, and the explosion of the population, are factors contributing toward the growing air pollution problem. At this time it is urgent that we find methods to clean up the air.
The primary air pollutants found in most urban areas are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter (both solid and liquid). These pollutants are dispersed throughout the world's atmosphere in concentrations high enough to gradually cause serious health problems. Serious health problems can occur quickly when air pollutants are concentrated, such as when massive injections of sulfur dioxide and suspended particulate matter are emitted by a large volcanic eruption.
Air Pollution in the Home
You cannot escape air pollution, not even in your own home. "In 1985 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that toxic chemicals found in the air of almost every American home are three times more likely to cause some type of cancer than outdoor air pollutants". (Miller 488) The health problems in these buildings are called "sick building syndrome". "An estimated one-fifth to one-third of all U.S. buildings are now considered "sick". (Miller 489) The EPA has found that the air in some office buildings is 100 times more polluted than the air outside. Poor ventilation causes about half of the indoor air pollution problems. The rest come from specific sources such as copying machines, electrical and telephone cables, mold and microbe-harboring air conditioning systems and ducts, cleaning fluids, cigarette smoke, carpet, latex caulk and paint, vinyl molding, linoleum tile, and building materials and furniture that emit air pollutants such as formaldehyde. A major indoor air pollutant is radon-222, a colorless, odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the radioactive decay of uranium-238. "According to studies by the EPA and the National Research Council, exposure to radon is second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer".

Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the major pollutants in the atmosphere. Major sources of CO2 are fossil fuels burning and deforestation. "The concentrations of CO2 in the air around 1860 before the effects of industrialization were felt, is assumed to have been about 290 parts per million (ppm). In the hundred years and more since then, the concentration has increased by about 30 to 35 ppm that is by 10 percent". (Breuer 67) Industrial countries account for 65% of CO2 emissions with the United States and Soviet Union responsible for 50%. Less developed countries (LDCs), with 80% of the world's people, are responsible for 35% of CO2 emissions but may contribute 50% by 2020. "Carbon dioxide emissions are increasing by 4% a year". (Miller 450)
In 1975, 18 thousand million tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to 5 thousand million tons of carbon) were released into the atmosphere, but the atmosphere showed an increase of only 8 billion tons (equivalent to 2.2 billion tons of carbon". (Breuer 70) The ocean waters contain about sixty times more CO2 than the atmosphere. If the equilibrium is disturbed by externally increasing the concentration of CO2 in the air, then the oceans would absorb more and more CO2.  If the oceans can no longer keep pace, then more CO2 will remain into the atmosphere. As water warms, its ability to absorb CO2 is reduced.
CO2 is a good transmitter of sunlight, but partially restricts infrared radiation going back from the earth into space. This produces the so-called greenhouse effect that prevents a drastic cooling of the Earth during the night. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reinforces this effect and is expected to result in a warming of the Earth's surface. Currently carbon dioxide is responsible for 57% of the global warming trend. Nitrogen oxides contribute most of the atmospheric contaminants.

N0X - nitric oxide (N0) and nitrogen dioxide (N02)
  • Natural component of the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Important in the formation of both acid precipitation and photochemical smog (ozone), and causes nitrogen loading.
  • Comes from the burning of biomass and fossil fuels.
  • 30 to 50 million tons per year from human activities, and natural 10 to 20 million tons per year.
  • Average residence time in the atmosphere is days.
  • Has a role in reducing stratospheric ozone.
N20 - nitrous oxide
  • Natural component of the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Important in the greenhouse effect and causes nitrogen loading.
  • Human inputs 6 million tons per year, and 19 million tons per year by nature.
  • Residence time in the atmosphere about 170 years.
  • 1700 (285 parts per billion), 1990 (310 parts per billion), 2030 (340 parts per billion).
  • Comes from nitrogen based fertilizers, deforestation, and biomass burning.

Sulfur and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Sulfur dioxide is produced by combustion of sulfur-containing fuels, such as coal and fuel oils. Also, in the process of producing sulfuric acid and in metallurgical process involving ores that contain sulfur. Sulfur oxides can injure man, plants and materials. At sufficiently high concentrations, sulfur dioxide irritates the upper respiratory tract of human beings because potential effect of sulfur dioxide is to make breathing more difficult by causing the finer air tubes of the lung to constrict. "Power plants and factories emit 90% to 95% of the sulfur dioxide and 57% of the nitrogen oxides in the United States. Almost 60% of the SO2 emissions are released by tall smoke stakes, enabling the emissions to travel long distances". (Miller 494) As emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide from stationary sources are transported long distances by winds, they form secondary pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, nitric acid vapor, and droplets containing solutions of sulfuric acid, sulfate, and nitrate salts. These chemicals descend to the earth's surface in wet form as rain or snow and in dry form as a gases fog, dew, or solid particles. This is known as acid deposition or acid rain.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
CFCs are lowering the average concentration of ozone in the stratosphere. "Since 1978 the use of CFCs in aerosol cans has been banned in the United States, Canada, and most Scandinavian countries. Aerosols are still the largest use, accounting for 25% of global CFC use". (Miller 448) Spray cans, discarded or leaking refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, and the burning plastic foam products release the CFCs into the atmosphere. Depending on the type, CFCs stay in the atmosphere from 22 to 111 years. Chlorofluorocarbons move up to the stratosphere gradually over several decades. Under high energy ultra violet (UV) radiation, they break down and release chlorine atoms, which speed up the breakdown of ozone (O3) into oxygen gas (O2).
Chlorofluorocarbons, also known as Freons, are greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Photochemical air pollution is commonly referred to as "smog". Smog, a contraction of the words smoke and fog, has been caused throughout recorded history by water condensing on smoke particles, usually from burning coal. With the introduction of petroleum to replace coal economies in countries, photochemical smog has become predominant in many cities, which are located in sunny, warm, and dry climates with many motor vehicles. The worst episodes of photochemical smog tend to occur in summer.


Photochemical smog is also appearing in regions of the tropics and subtropics where savanna grasses are periodically burned. Smog's unpleasant properties result from the irradiation by sunlight of hydrocarbons caused primarily by unburned gasoline emitted by automobiles and other combustion sources. The products of photochemical reactions includes organic particles, ozone, aldehydes, ketones, peroxyacetyl nitrate, organic acids, and other oxidants. Ozone is a gas created by nitrogen dioxide or nitric oxide when exposed to sunlight. Ozone causes eye irritation, impaired lung function, and damage to trees and crops. Another form of smog is called industrial smog.
This smog is created by burning coal and heavy oil that contain sulfur impurities in power plants, industrial plants, etc... The smog consists mostly of a mixture of sulfur dioxide and fog. Suspended droplets of sulfuric acid are formed from some of the sulfur dioxide, and a variety of suspended solid particles. This smog is common during the winter in cities such as London, Chicago, Pittsburgh. When these cities burned large amounts of coal and heavy oil without control of the output, large-scale problems were witnessed. In 1952 London, England, 4,000 people died as a result of this form of fog. Today coal and heavy oil are burned only in large boilers and with reasonably good control or tall smokestacks so that industrial smog is less of a problem. However, some countries such as China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and some other eastern European countries, still burn large quantities of coal without using adequate controls.
Pollution Damage to Plants
With the destruction and burning of the rain forests more and more CO2 is being released into the atmosphere. Trees play an important role in producing oxygen from carbon dioxide. "A 115 year old Beech tree exposes about 200,000 leaves with a total surface to 1200 square meters. During the course of one sunny day such a tree inhales 9,400 liters of carbon dioxide to produce 12 kilograms of carbohydrate, thus liberating 9,400 liters of oxygen. Through this mechanism about 45,000 liters of air are regenerated which is sufficient for the respiration of 2 to 3 people". (Breuer 1) This process is called photosynthesis which all plants go though but some yield more and some less oxygen. As long as no more wood is burnt than is reproduced by the forests, no change in atmospheric CO2 concentration will result.
Pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and peroxyacl nitrates (PANs), cause direct damage to leaves of crop plants and trees when they enter leaf pores (stomates). Chronic exposure of leaves and needles to air pollutants can also break down the waxy coating that helps prevent excessive water loss and damage from diseases, pests, drought and frost. "In the midwestern United States crop losses of wheat, corn, soybeans, and peanuts from damage by ozone and acid deposition amount to about $5 billion a year". (Miller 498)