Baby elephants have become the must-have status symbol for Sri Lanka's wealthy. The government has introduced new laws to protect them. But conservationists believe more action is needed to end mistreatment.
Diplomatic gifts between countries can, like most presents, either be a fitting gesture or cause unintended controversy. The donation in 2015 of two baby elephants from the country's Pinnawala orphanage by the Sri Lankan prime minister to his New Zealand counterpart very much falls into the latter category.
At the end of 2016, elephants made headlines around the world as China finally announced a timeframe for closing its domestic ivory market – long affirmed by many conservationists to be the single biggest step that could be taken to end the slaughter of elephants.
The news represents a major win for elephant conservation and the Chinese government deserves commendation. However, close examination of the recent announcement gives some potential causes for concern – it is now imperative that the ban be strongly publicised and enforced, and that any potential loopholes be closed.