Kotuwe Gedara Sumanabanda Punchi , camp mahout in Sri Lanka
Born 1958-07-13 in Sri Lanka
, son of mahout Apuhami Punchi and wife R. M. Ukuama .
Mr K. G. Sumanabanda is a four generation Sri Lankan Mahout,
who was chief Mahout
at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage since he was transfered there from Colombo Zoo in Dehivela Gardens in 1981 until 2010. He has worked with some 200 elephants.
Sumanabanda was born 13 July 1958 in his fathers house Hasthiraja Niwasa in the village Kotagama, in Rambukkana, (close to the Pinnawala elephant orphanage), son of wellknown Sri Lankan Mahout
Punchi Apuhami. The family belongs to the high caste called Wallawue. Sumunabandas mother R.M Ukuama, and her father was the Mahout
Siathu Hami from Kalu Galle.
Twelve years old, he and his brother Gunaratne started to help his father tend the families four elephants, Raja, died 20 years ago. Mudiyansee died 2002-04-01, Palikanatta (bull, died 35 years ago) and Menika died 2006. Weerasuriya Banda Hewahatta (Sumunabandas uncle, Apuhamis brother) trained the elephant Menika.
After Sumunabanda finished his studies in 1974, and started to work daily as mahouts with his fathers elephants. In the vicinity was some 25 elephants, and Sumunabanda helped his father when he was giving Ajurveda therapy to visiting elephants.
The bull Mudiyanse, K.G. Samunabanda left, and his father Punchi Apuhami, 1984. Photo © Wayne Jackson, Canada.
The bull Mudiyanse, Samunabanda left, and his father, 1984. Photo Wayne Jackson, Canada.
In 1978 Samunabanda started to work as Mahout
at Sri Lanka National Zoological Gardens (Dehiwela Zoo) in Colombo, under the late director Lyn de Alwis.
Elephants were Letchemie, Babynoona, Bandoola, Namalie, Anusha, Sampath (both later PEO), Raja (killed Gunaseena and Piedase) Indi, Bibi and Baba. Shanti and Menika (trained in Jaffna army camp) (both later PEO).
In 1981 Samunabanda was transfered from Dehivela Gardens to Pinnawela elephant orphanage where he, together with two assistants, became responsible for their 13 elephants.
(Photo from the book les animaux sauvages ; l'éléphant) The Pinnawela Herd
and chief Mahout
K.G. Sumanabanda, in 1981. Not one single hotel, and only palm trees along the river. The elephants on the picture are 13; Vijaya, Neela, Hema, Mathalee, Randivi, Mahaweli, Kumari, Diula, Anuscha, Kadira, Komali, Weera (later Kandula I at the army camp), and Jadura. On the picture above is not one single hotel, and only palm trees along the river Maha Oya.
Sumanabanda was married 1989, and inherited his fathers house in Rambukkana, and had 4 daughters, youngest is Chandanie who was starring in a film.
In 1991 Sumunabanda participated in the delivering of Menika to Islamabad Zoo.
Sumunabanda also delivered the small elephant Migara to Beijing Zoo, where he stayed 28 days. On this trip was also the bull Aralia, and a female from Dehivela.
In 2010 he bought Atkandavihare (Vasale), a 22 years old wildborn bull, which he is now training.
K. G. SumanabandaBorn: 1958-07-13