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Heartbreaking photos of a malnourished elephant, forced to march through the streets, have been released by a charity.
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.
She said: "For a ceremony, all have the right to belief as long as that belief does not disturb or harm another. How can we call this a blessing, or something holy, if we make other lives suffer?
"Today is World Elephant Day. We cannot bring a peaceful world to the elephant if we still think that this image is acceptable."
Ms Chailert added: "To love, to do no harm, to follow a path of kindness and compassion, this is the Way of Buddha. It is time to follow."
LADbible has contacted the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that hosts the festival, for a comment.
However, a spokesperson for the temple told the Metro that they 'always care about the animals' and claimed Tikiri had been seen by an elephant doctor.
Featured Image Credit: Save Elephant Foundation/Lek Chailert
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