At Least 17 Injured After Two Elephants Rampage Through Streets During Festival
More than a dozen people have been injured after an elephant stampede wreaked havoc during a Buddhist parade in Sri Lanka.
An elephant reportedly threw its owner-driver off it's back and started charging at people watching on the sidewalk.
It all started during the parade in Kotte, near Columbo, when people started running from one elephant that was rampaging through the streets.
Some of the crowd then bumped into another elephant, sparking a terrifying domino effect that spooked the second animal. Bystanders had to run out of the way of the two charging elephants in order to maintain safety.
Eventually, people part of the parade managed to bring one of the elephants under control and calm it down before it was able to destroy anything else.
It was dressed in a beautiful cloth that is a Buddhist tradition, however while it might look pretty on the outside, it can sometimes hide the elephant's health from the public.
Heartbreaking photos of a malnourished elephant, forced to march through the streets, have been released by a charity to showcase this very fact.
The frail animal, named Tikiri, can be seen in the pictures dressed up in a colourful robe while a man rides on her back as she parades in the streets, which she repeats for 10 consecutive nights.
But those looking on don't realise how weak she is, as her emaciated body is hidden beneath her costume.
Lek Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation, says Tikiri is one of around 60 elephants forced to take part in the Esala Perahera, a Buddhist festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Ms Chailert says Tikiri and others like her are shackled and have to put up with the loud noise of fireworks, as well as the smoke.
She said: "Tikiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for 10 consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke.
"She walks many kilometers every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony. No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition, because of her costume.
"No one sees the tears in her eyes, injured by the bright lights that decorate her mask, no one sees her difficulty to step as her legs are short shackled while she walks."
The charity's head said she had no problem with people celebrating their faith, as long as it doesn't interfere with the welfare and happiness of the animals used.
Featured Image Credit: Storyful/Isuru Madushan Subasinghe