A 15-year-old elephant who was blamed for pushing an elderly monk to his death has been mercilessly whipped with sharp sticks at a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka.
Footage shows the wild animal, which has its legs chained to trees, lying in a murky pool at the Bellanwila Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
One keeper is seen viciously slapping the elephant’s leg with sticks.
Another keeper appears to clean the animal’s leg and give it a scrub while the elephant tries to move his head and starts helplessly crying.
The elephant, known as Myan Prince, wails in pain and tries to grab onto one of the chains with his trunk.
In February 2018, he was blamed for killing an elderly monk at the temple.
He allegedly pushed Wimalarathana Thero, 77, to the ground during his breakfast feeding.
Bellanwila Temple denied the local reports and claimed the senior monk fell and suffered a heart attack.
Maneesha Arachchige, an activist from Rally for Animal Rights and Environment, said she is concerned about Myan Prince as he appears to be ‘beaten on a regular basis’.
She told the Metro: ‘If action is not taken quickly we fear for the safety of those around the elephant as well as Myan Prince’s safety and wellbeing.’
STOP to cruelty to animals in Sri Lanka wrote on Facebook: ‘Shame on Sri Lanka’s Buddhist teachers and communities for not speaking up and instead promoting the captivity of elephants.’
More than 125,000 people have signed a petition to release the elephant back into the wild.
It comes as figures show a record number of elephants have died in Sri Lanka during 2019.
A total of 361 have died since Sri Lanka became independent in 1948, according to conservationists.
Seven were found dead after being allegedly poisoned by local residents for destroying crops.
Almost 85 per cent died as a result of human activity, says the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform.
Please sign the petition for Myan Prince to be released into the wild here.
Bellanwila Temple has been approached for comment.