Japan rhinoceros to leave for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka will receive two black rhinoceros from Japan in exchange for a pair of baby elephants, a government spokesman said on Thursday. Two baby elephants now housed at an elephant orphanage at Pinnawela, about 70 kilometers (46 miles) east of Colombo will soon be sent to Nagoya Higashiyama zoo in Japan, said spokesman Anura Yapa, adding that Sri Lanka will get a pair of African black rhinoceros as part of the deal.

Pinnawela currently cares for 62 orphaned elephants. Sri Lanka's elephant population has dwindled over the years. Some 10,000-15,000 elephants roamed Sri Lanka's jungles a century ago, but only 3,000 remain today, largely because of deforestation and hunting by ivory poachers.

A government wildlife official said Thursday that a female and two baby elephants died after stepping on a land mine in the rebel-controlled region of northeastern Sri Lanka, reports the AP.

N.U.