Maheshakya was widely agreed upon as an exemplary specimen of an elephant, with large tusks. He roamed the wildernesses of Kebithigollewa in Sri Lanka’s North Central province. Maheshakya got into a fight earlier this year with another elephant, which left him seriously wounded. Even as he lay in pain, still alive and conscious, a poacher cut off one of his tusks. Twenty days later, Maheshakya was dead.
In the time since the tusker had suffered his injuries during the fight, veterinarians from the Department of Wildlife Conservation were able to check on him just twice. Before this year, Maheshakya would have received many more visits, possibly preventing the loss of his tusk and subsequent death. But Sri Lanka’s ongoing economic crisis, the worst in the country’s history, meant that was not to be.
“If we had more opportunity to treat the elephant and visit frequently, there was a chance of saving his life. But we did not have fuel in our vehicles to make this journey regularly,” said Chandana Jayasinghe, a wildlife veterinary surgeon at the Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Sri Lanka has declared bankruptcy and lacks foreign reserves to import essential goods for its people, such as medicine, fuel and gas. Kilometres-long lines at gas stations have become a permanent…