I met Sumanabanda first time back in 1977, when I, as 17 year old teenager spend four months "studying" working with elephants on Sri Lanka. I only remember a few smaller ones from that time, but I didnt stay long, I was on the way back from Kandy to Udugama, (north of the town Galle) where the Director Nelson Wickramaratne was generously letting me stay for free, so I could see the Playwood Corporation elephants in work every day..
Sumanabanda was born 1958, son of wellknown Sri Lankan mahout Punchi Apuhami, and twelve years old, he started to help his father tend the families three elephants, Raja, Mudiyansee, and Menika.
|The bull Mudiyanse, Samunabanda left, and his grandmothers brother Rambanda, 1984. Photo Wayne Jackson, Canada.|
In 1981 Samunabanda was transfered from Dehivela Gardens to Pinnawela elephant orphanage where he, together with two assistants, became responsible for their 13 elephants.