Friday, January 11, 2013

Relocating elephants fails to decrease human–wildlife conflict



Human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka kills more than 70 humans and 200 Asian elephants every year. One of the most common tools in combating these conflicts is moving the elephants into ranges away from humans, often into national parks. This is done in hopes of avoiding problems that include elephants raiding crops, breaking into homes and injuring or killing people. But according to a new study to be published Dec. 7 in PLOS ONE by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Centre for Conservation and Research in Sri Lanka and the Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka, moving problem elephants can actually lead to more conflict and more deaths of both humans and elephants.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lost in captivity

The baby elephant at the resort hotel in Bentota on July 13 was present to welcome guests. An animal lover visiting the hotel was aghast. For here was an animal that should still be in the wild or in a safe haven, instead entertaining tourists. But thankfully Sanju (as the animal’s current owner calls him) is no longer at work. No longer there: Baby Sanju at the hotel Bentota Beach Hotel General Manager Sanjeewa Perera said Sanju is about six years old and this was confirmed by Sanju’s current owner. The hotel had an elephant as a tourist attraction for about 30 years, usually leased, he said. To read this article in full, please click on the link at the top.

New measures to protect Pinnawala elephants

The death of a young elephant due to the cruelty of four workers at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has prompted authorities to introduce measures to ensure safety of the pachyderms. Among the new measures will be the installation of closed-circuit TV cameras that will monitor how elephants are looked after at the orphanage, a world famous tourist attraction.
Other measures, according to outgoing National Zoological Gardens Director Bashwara Gunaratne, include training for mahouts on the latest methods in animal care.

To read this story in full, please click on the link at the top.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Wild jumbos run amok in new habitats

Daily News
May 6, 2009

Wild elephants, that lived in the Buttala, Kataragama and Wellawaya areas in the Pahala Uva region of the Monaragala district have come to the forests off Ambarangala, Koslanda, Makaldeniya, Puunaagala and Seeriyabedda in the Haldummulla Divisional Secretariat of the Badulla district, say the Haldummulla public.

These jumbos have become a menace to the peasants of the villages in and around these forests.

Against this background, peasants in these villages have to live in fear of the wild elephants. Some of these elephants have dared to come to the villages even during the day time.

Occasionally, wild elephants could be seen in the town of Koslanda too, the Haldummulla public states.

Wild elephants in school playground

Palitha Ariyawansa, Daily Mirror
May 5, 2009

The school children, of the jungle area of Kandeketiya, got a surprise when they saw four wild jumbos frolicking in the school playground.
The elephants, noticing the children, had stopped playing and started running towards them. The frightened children ran helter-skelter and some ended up getting into a bus parked near the school and had stopped only after creeping under the seats.
According to the Divisional Secretary Gamini Mahindapala Jopeas, the children could come into the school only after the teachers and the elders of the village had managed to chase the elephants.

Why do elephants come back home?

Kumudini Hettiarachchi, Sunday Times

April 5, 2009
Human settlements have expanded and forests have been cleared, invariably leading to conflicts not only with elephants but other wild animals as well. As soon as there is a human-elephant conflict in some area, the traditional answer has been to “translocate” the elephant, uprooting it from its habitat and placing it in a new environment, with the expectation that it would settle down there and not cause conflict.

But is this the best answer, looking at it from both the human and elephant points of view? This is what the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) is trying to find out, after several instances where elephants translocated many km away have come back to their very own “gama” or home, like humans who keep going back to their ancestral villages.

Such “homecomings” have been easy to detect in recent times because some of the elephants have been “collared” by the DWLC in collaboration with the Centre for Conservation and Research.
The latest “walkabout”, however, has been by an elephant which is easily identifiable even without a radio collar as it is a majestic one-tusked adult male.

Tranquillized and captured in the Ehetuwewa divisional area in Galgamuwa on February 14 due to complaints by villagers that the elephant was creating trouble, it had been released at the Somawathiya National Park at midnight on February 15/16, 93.4 km. away in a direct line.

To read the full article click on the story title

Tussle over tusks

Wildlife conservationists raise concern over an Environment Ministry
decision to give away tusks collected at the Wildlife Conservation
Department
Malaka Rodrigo, The Sunday Times
April 19, 2009

During a voyage to Serendib, Sinbad the Sailor is said to have
discovered an ancient elephant graveyard, full of elephant tusks. That
maybe fictitious, but the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC)’s
store today resembles a modern elephant graveyard as all the tusks
belonging to elephants who die in the wild are kept here.

To read the full article click on the story title

Human-elephant conflict intense

Sri Lanka Daily News
April 20, 2009

Wild elephants infiltrating from Lunugamvehera National Park to Kataragama area is frequently resulting in human-elephant conflicts.

The Lunugamvehera National Park authorities say this is due to damaged section of the electricity fence at Wilamba Wewa area where there is a conflict between the authorities and farmers over a tank a paddy fields inside the national park.

The farmers claim the ownership of the lands while the authorities say that they cannot be released to farmer as these lands are within the national park.

Because of this reason heavy elephant tolls have been reported to the wildlife authorities.

Tusks donation creates uproar

By Risidra Mendis, The Sunday Leader
April 12, 2009

A pair of tusks presented to President Mahinda Rajapakse by Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka has created an uproar among environmentalists.

The presentation of the tusks to President Mahinda Rajapakse at Temple Trees two weeks ago though not illegal has been criticised by environmentalists and the public, who feel that the Minister should set an example to the public by not making such presentations.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader environmentalists said even though there are special provisions for the head of state, ministers and the wildlife director to present a pair of tusks with an authorised permit, the Minister should set an example to the public by not making announcements when presenting tusks to the President.

"The elephant population is rapidly decreasing in the country. According to recent surveys the elephant human conflict and killing these animals for their tusks are the main reasons for their dwindling population. A large number of elephants were killed during the recent past and their tusks used for decorative accessories in the country. At a time when animal welfare activists and environmentalists are fighting to save the dwindling elephant population in the country the Environment Minister is presenting a pair of tusks to the President," environmentalists said, requesting anonymity in view of the fact that the tusks had been donated to the President.

To read the full article click on the story title

Wild elephant threats increase

Daily News
March 22, 2009

The threats of wild elephants are increasing day by day causing immense hardships to farmers, Sports Minister Bandula Basnayake said at Galgamuwa Divisional Secretariat office recently.

The Wildlife Conservation Department has not taken any action about this pathetic situation, he alleged.

He pointed out to the officers present at the conference that under this situation, a number of houses were destroyed as well as chena cultivations around Galgamuwa area.

It has been found that the largest number of deaths and casualties in the human-elephant conflict are reported from the North Western Province. He said people are concerned about these problem in Wayamba.

They were not worried about the dwindling elephant population.

To read the full article click on the story title

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Elephant conservation to be improved

Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka
Press Release
23 January 2009

The Government has taken a number of measures to improve elephant conservation. The elephant population which was only 1,967 in 1993 has increased up to 5,350 in 2008, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Patali Champika Ranawaka said at the Parliament yesterday (22).

The Ministry launching the Gajamithuro program, expects to protect the elephant population of the country, he said.

The Minister stated that Gajamithuro Coordination Centres have been established in Hambantota, Giritale, Ritigala, Thanamalwila, Koslanda, Kurunegala, Minipe, Walapane, Ampara, Valachchenai, Udawalawa and Vavuniya to protect wild elephants across the country.

A new elephant orphanage in Ritigala will be set up this year to protect baby elephants.
Twenty five elephant rehabilitation centres will also be set up islandwide. Two centres in Ritigala and Wasgamuwa are scheduled to be opened this year, the Minister added.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wild life experts lock horns over baby elephant transfers

Kumudini Hettiarachchi, Sunday Times
January 1, 2009

As controversy surrounded preparations to transfer two “babies” from the Elephant Transit Home (ETH) at Uda Walawe to the Pinnawela Orphanage, opinion among activists was divided whether this was a good or bad move.

“We are hoping to move ‘Atlas’ and another baby elephant from ETH to Pinnawela on Sunday (today) or this week,” said W.A.D.A. Wijesooriya, Director-General of the Department of Wild Life Conservation (DWLC), when contacted by The Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times reliably learns that the transfer of baby elephants will take place today. (January 11)
When asked whether the transfer was to ensure that foreign tourists could see babies being bottle-fed milk at Pinnawela as alleged by conservationists, the Director-General was quick to reject it, saying that the ETH was overcrowded. “Whereas there should only be about 20-25 elephants there, we have about 35,” he said.

For the full story click on the title of the article

Electric fences to avoid human - elephant conflict

Mohammed Naalir, Daily News
January 15, 2009

Plans are afoot to erect electric fences surrounding the forests where elephants roam frequently considering the safety of villages while establishing a typical environment to elephants, North Western Province Wild Life Director Manjula Amararatne said.

He said that this project will be implemented in three stages and electric fences will be erected surrounding the forests in Anuradhapura, Kekirawa and Galoya areas, where the threat from wild elephants is high.

Amararatne said that due to attacks by elephants several persons were killed. Also a large number of elephants were killed by the villagers for various reasons. He expressed confidence that these measures will help to protect the human lives as well as the lives of elephants. A considerable sum has been set aside for this purpose, Amararatne added.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wildlife Dept expedites payments to victims of elephant attacks

S.M. Wijayaratne Kurunegala, Daily News

November 18, 2008

The Department of Wildlife has now decided to pay compensation to all people who are victims of wild elephant attacks.

Earlier, victims of wild elephant attacks had to wait for years to get compensation, but now the department has planned to pay compensation within two or three months.

The Director of North Western Wildlife Zone Manjula Amararatne told the Daily News that if a householder faces death due to a wild elephant attack the dependants of that family will be entitled to Rs. 100,000 as compensation. A member of any family who faces death due to a wild elephant attack will get Rs. 75,000.

If a householder becomes totally in capacitated for life due to an attack of elephants he will get Rs. 100,000 as compensation.

Amararatne

Wild elephants destroy Kandaketiya crops

Daily Mirror
November 17, 2008

A group of wild elephants who escaped from the Randenigala reserve forest have destroyed a large number of crops in the adjoining villages of Kandaketiya, Kirivehera area last week, terrorising the local people in the area.
C. de Silva, a resident of the area said there were three wild elephants roaming the village and the fear of elephants had made the local people to remain sleepless at night.
“It was after a long time the elephants came back to the village. They destroyed a large amount of acres of paddy this time. They roam around the villages not allowing any person to step outside their houses even at daytime.
We remain awake ready with our fireplaces to be lighted as security measures. The villagers have become hopeless because all their crops have been destroyed,” he said.

For the full article click on the story title

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Humans and elephants on collision course in South Asia

World Wildlife Fund
17 Nov 2008

Kathmandu, Nepal: Massive international investment in large-scale infrastructure projects in southern Asia will increase human-elephant conflict and cause more deaths on both sides unless much greater care is taken.

A new report released today, funded by the World Bank as part of the World Bank-WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation & Sustainable Use, warns international investors that a clear strategy for keeping human-elephant conflict under control makes economic as well as environmental sense.

It is estimated that the economic damage caused by human-elephant conflict amounts to millions of dollars in some countries and in many cases it is those responsible for new land developments that have to foot the bill.

“Billions of dollars lined up for regional and national level infrastructural investments such as the Trans-Asian highway project and various hydro-power and irrigation projects are going to significantly increase human-elephant conflict across Asia,” said Christy Williams, Coordinator of WWF’s Asian elephant and rhino conservation program.

“Banks and investors need to show leadership when it comes to human-elephant conflict by adding mitigation options into their large infrastructure plans in places where elephants are found from the beginning.”

Human-animal conflict is exacerbated whenever land where the animals traditionally find food and living space is taken away as human population and aspiration increases. In this situation elephants frequently raid crop fields and break down houses to get at stored crops.

Chance encounters between elephants and people, as well as efforts of people to guard against elephants, result in injury and death of humans. Harmful methods employed by people in the process result in death and injury of elephants, thereby escalating the conflict.

The report – Review of Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Measures Practised in South Asia – was compiled by WWF-Nepal, the Centre for Conservation and Research Sri Lanka (CCR) and the Nature Conservation Foundation.

It analyses case by case the methods local people are using to keep elephants away from their houses and finds that, in order to reduce the many costs of human-elephant conflict, a strategy that explains the most effective ways to mitigate the conflict is urgently needed.

The report notes that a comprehensive strategy could help investors planning infrastructure projects in south Asia to include human-elephant conflict mitigation options from the beginning, which would lead to both economic and conservation gains.

"Most mitigation measures currently being used are just akin to bandaging the wounds and not treating the root cause,” said Prithiviraj Fernando, chairman of CCR-Sri Lanka. “Good land-use planning that takes both people and elephant needs into account is the only long-term solution.”

See report, Review of Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Measures Practised in South Asia [pdf, 1.69 MB] by clicking on the blog title

Wildlife Dept expedites payments to victims of elephant attacks

S.M. Wijayaratne Kurunegala, Daily News

November 18, 2008

The Department of Wildlife has now decided to pay compensation to all people who are victims of wild elephant attacks.

Earlier, victims of wild elephant attacks had to wait for years to get compensation, but now the department has planned to pay compensation within two or three months.

The Director of North Western Wildlife Zone Manjula Amararatne told the Daily News that if a householder faces death due to a wild elephant attack the dependants of that family will be entitled to Rs. 100,000 as compensation. A member of any family who faces death due to a wild elephant attack will get Rs. 75,000.

If a householder becomes totally in capacitated for life due to an attack of elephants he will get Rs. 100,000 as compensation.

Amararatne added that the Government has already drafted a policy to save elephants and to minimise elephant human conflict in the future.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wild elephants destroy Kandaketiya crops

Daily Mirror
November 17, 2008

A group of wild elephants who escaped from the Randenigala reserve forest have destroyed a large number of crops in the adjoining villages of Kandaketiya, Kirivehera area last week, terrorising the local people in the area.
C. de Silva, a resident of the area said there were three wild elephants roaming the village and the fear of elephants had made the local people to remain sleepless at night.
“It was after a long time the elephants came back to the village. They destroyed a large amount of acres of paddy this time. They roam around the villages not allowing any person to step outside their houses even at daytime.
We remain awake ready with our fireplaces to be lighted as security measures. The villagers have become hopeless because all their crops have been destroyed,” he said.

For the full article click on the story title

Monday, November 10, 2008

Elephantine misconceptions

From human-elephant conflict to human-elephant coexistence:
Sajitha PREMATUNGE, Sunday Observer
November 2, 2008

People and elephants have lived in harmony for nearly thousand years. So why have reports on human-elephant conflict escalated as of late?

With the liberation of the East, as more protected areas have become accessible and with the increased man power the records of conflicts have invariably increased, coupled with the undue publicity given by some media to such unfortunate confrontations giving the false impression that conflicts have increased in number.

Although there undoubtedly may be an increase in the number of incidents, there are many misconceptions about our gentle giants.
Apart from the irresponsible conduct of some media in providing unnecessary publicity to incidents of human-elephant, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Patali Champika Ranawaka identifies that, increased number of recorded elephant deaths due to the increase of vet surgeons, gives the false impression that conflicts have escalated.

“New counts in newly liberated areas like Batticaloa have helped to increase the numbers. But that doesn’t mean that the human elephant conflict has escalated. This has happened in these very same areas before, it’s just that nobody was there to record them.”

To read the full article click on the story title

Agro-wells: death traps for elephants

The Island
November 3, 2008

Recently the issue of unprotected agro-wells into which elephants frequently fall and die unless rescued in time, has come into sharp focus. Elephants, particularly in the Kalawewa area of the NCP, which has a large number of agro-wells, come into villages to feed on cultivations and frequently fall into these wells. Yet, successive Directors of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Ministers have paid little or no attention to this problem, allowing elephants and young calves to continue to suffer a cruel fate. The present Minister, on assuming office, showed his concern for fauna and flora, by saying that in Sri Lanka not only people but the environment too was faced with violence. However, there seems to be a big gap between sentiment and action because with regard to the danger to elephants from open agro-wells, it has taken him three years to turn his attention to this problem.

In a recent incident at Kekirawa, a man was killed by a she elephant rescued from an agro-well into which she and her calf had fallen. TV viewers watched in horror how, getting out of the well, the mother elephant chased after the man and catching up with him, trampled and killed him. Apparently the mother elephant was enraged and agitated by the large and noisy crowd of people gathered there, fearing they would harm her calf.

To read the full article click on the story title

Friday, October 24, 2008

Elephant protection societies mooted to minimise human-elephant conflict

Sri Lanka Daily News
October 11, 2008

The Wildlife Conservation Department has planned to form 'Elephant Protection Societies' in the North Western wildlife preservation zone for minimising the elephant-human conflict.

Assistant Director in charge of the North Western Zone Manjula Amararatne which consist of five districts such as Mannar, Puttalam, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura and Kurunegala, said that villagers who live in areas where elephant invasions are rampant will be trained in strategical methodologies that could be practised in driving the elephant herds to forest reserves, without causing harm to them. Referring to the distribution of elephant crackers he said that in villages threatened by wild elephants, all villagers can apply for crackers.

When elephants enter the villages the limitless, aimless and unsystematic firing of ali wedi here and there agitate the jumbos and they start to play havoc in the locality in which the folks get injured or killed and their properties including cultivations devastated, the Assistant Director pointed out. Hence the Elephant Protection Societies are being established, he said to further curtail the damages.

He said that the monthly quota of ali wedi to the zone is 9,000 but the demands exceeds 20,000 each month. Through this concept of Elephant Protection Societies both waste and the unwarranted usage of ali wedi could be reduced thus minimising the danger.

Amararatne said that in the Kurunegala and Puttalam divisions, due to the scarcity of forest cover and reservations, elephants and people are compelled to live adjacently thus jeopardising the existence of both.

To read the full article click on the story title

Sri Lanka rescues five wild elephants during the last 5 days

ColomboPage
October 6, 2008

Oct 06, Colombo: Despite the conflict between the two species Sri Lankans have managed to rescue the lives of five wild elephants fallen into agriculture wells in Kekirawa of the North Central Province during the last 3 days.

According to Wildlife Department, during a rescue operation that took place on October 3rd to remove two elephant calves and a female elephant, an onlooker was attacked by the female elephant and later succumbed to his injuries.

However, another female elephant died before being rescued on October 4th even though her calf was rescued.

Meanwhile an elephant and a calf fallen into an agriculture well on October 5th was taken out by using an earth moving machine.

Sri Lanka hopes elephants can revive tourism trade

Agence France Presse
October 6. 2008

MINNERIYA, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Asian elephants are renowned as highly social animals and the reservoir meetings demonstrate their complex group dynamics in action.
As evening falls, a female elephant and her pink-skinned baby emerge from the jungle for a leafy snack around an ancient artificial lake in Sri Lanka.

They are just two of hundreds of wild elephants that gather each evening along the banks of the Minneriya reservoir for food, water, shelter -- and match-making.
From July to October, "The Gathering" -- as it is known -- gives humans the chance to observe the elephants feasting and frolicking on the water's edge.

Mothers encourage their off-spring towards the water, making sure that no calf is left stranded. Young males use their trunks to wrestle each other, while adult bulls sniff the air to scent fertile females.

Tucked away in the island's north central province, Minneriya provides an ideal venue for hungry elephants during the dry season when waterholes in the forests evaporate into cracked mud patches

To read the full article click on the story title

The Fall of Ravana

By Malaka Rodrigo, Sunday Times
October 5, 2008

Among the many elephant deaths we hear of, this was particularly shocking. Not only because it was a majestic tusker being monitored through a satellite collar, but also because it was killed inside a national park.

Ravana died on August 25 in a muddy water hole inside Lunugamvehera National Park, from infected gunshot wounds. The post-mortem revealed that the jumbo– named after the powerful king of ancient Sri Lanka – was starving at the time of death - the wound on its cheek preventing it from taking food in its last days.

The Lunugamvehera park was supposed to have been a sanctuary for the animal which was translocated there last December. It had initially been moved to Uda Walawe National Park in September 2007 after crop-raiding in its home grounds of Anuradhapura and was radio-collared by elephant expert Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando before release in the park. But soon, it tried to make its way back leaving a trail of destruction in the villages of Aluthwewa, Handapanagala and Buttala. One man was killed and an elderly villager was saved only after a constable shot the elephant in its foot.

To read the full article click on the story title

Rescued Elephants Run Amok, Kill Saviour in Sri Lanka

Thaindian.com
October 4th, 2008

Colombo, Oct 4 (IANS) An elephant that had fallen into a jungle well with her calf and was rescued by villagers in Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka ran amok and killed one of the saviours in the presence of helpless police and wildlife authorities.The incident occurred Friday at Kirirawa village in the north-central district of Anuradhapura, about 200 km from here.
“As they came out of the well, the elephants started chasing the villagers. The baby jumbo calmed down in a short while, but the cow elephant kept chasing a group of villagers and trampled one of them to death,” A. Bandara, a local reporter in Anuradhapura, told IANS over the phone.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ranjith Gunasekara said a police team along with wildlife authorities rushed to the scene and helped the villagers rescue the elephants from the well.

However, he said it was unfortunate that the police team could not rescue the villager who was trampled by the cow elephant.

The situation turned ugly when angry villagers attacked the police team for not killing the elephant and saving the life of the villager.

“A police sergeant assaulted by the villagers was admitted to the hospital. We have arrested a villager for assaulting policemen,” Gunasekara said.

To read the full article click on the story title

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Who sanctioned the rape of a sanctuary?

Kumudini Hettiarachchi, Sunday Times
September 28, 2008

Absolute stillness, the stillness of the jungle, accentuated only by the call of birds from the lotus-studded wewa. Suddenly a humming and whining begin, shattering the stillness. A bulldozer is at work………up and down, leaving a large swathe of land cleared of everything.

What is left is only a trail of destruction – giant trees such as weera and myla on their sides, the scrub jungle no more and the tall grasses cleared. Some of the trees and shrubs have been set ablaze, with patches of areas still smouldering.

This is the fate, since Monday, of part of the Dahaiyagala sanctuary and animal corridor, covering about 2,685 ha, on the northern border of the Uda Walawe National Park, in clear violation of the large green boards of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC).

To read the full article click on the story title

Is the Wild Life Department protecting its property or giving it away?

Kamini Meedeniya Vitarana, The Island
September 29, 2008

On Monday the 22nd September 2008, about a hundred or more people came with axes knives and other cutting instruments and proceeded to cut trees in what is known as the Dahaiyyagala Elephant Corridor which is situated on the north east of the Uda Walawe National park. This corridor runs through this sanctuary of Dahaiyygala to the mineral and salt deposits found in the proposed Bogahapattiya Sanctuary north of Veli Oya and was declared so by gazette notification on June 07 2002. gazette number 1239/28

What the invaders were trying to do is to close this corridor by building a fence across it and so preventing the elephants from going to Bogahapattiya . This will create a huge human elephant conflict as enraged elephants try to go to their source of salt and minerals through other land cultivated by human beings.

To read the full article click on the story title

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update of the Uttarakhand Elephant Project from Dr Santosh Kumar Sahoo

Currently, I work on a USFWS-sponsored project on Human-elephant Conflict (HEC) issues in Uttarakhand, India. I focus on Mapping the HEC areas in the Shiwalik Elephant corridor in Uttarakhand and working with the communities on HEC mitigation strategies. At the present stage of the work It has been possible to gather significant amount of authentic information about the ground truth of HEC issue and the related problems associated with it across the elephant ranging areas spreading from the north western limit of the elephant range in Dehradun up to the Kilpura-Surai corrodor bordering Nepal in the eastern end of the Uttarakhand state. The problem of HEC in all the forest divisions in the Shivalik
Elephant Corridor not only concentrates in the fringe villages, but also its impact is seen inside many reserves where on many occasions either elephants have killed human beings or humans have killed elephants. The threats to elephant population in Uttarakhand are many but practical conservation efforts to save the elephants are NIL. The impact of habitat fragmentation in several parts of nearly 450 kilometer-long elephant corridor in Uttarakhand is so grave that growing incidences of HEC problem in recent months may give rise to greater community dissension in future over elephant related crop loss, human fatality and property loss unless a strategic plan for a community-friendly HEC mitigation and elephant corridor landscape management is implemented. Some of my critical observations on the HEC as well as elephant conservation issues in Uttarakhand are listed below:

1. In Uttarakhand state, the govt. considers HEC issue as one of the routine human-wiildlife conflicts and is trying to minimize it through a provision of a meagre ex-gratia comensation payment to the identified HEC-affected villagers, and by erecting solar powered electric fence at some locations along the fringes of the reserves. As of today, all these solar powered fencing lines are lying dead except at two locations- at Chhiderwala in Dehradun FD and at Jhilmill Jheel Conservation Unit in Haridwar FD. At Chhiderwala, it functions partially but with high risks of getting damaged unless new batteries are installed while at Jhillmill Jheel Conservation Unit, the fence encloses the Unit office premises.

2. The Solar powered electric fencing, as reported by most HEC affected villagers, could have been a success as an effective elephant detterent to minimize the HEC incidences, had there been proper line of maintainance activities under the care of trained personnel either from the communities or from the forest department staff. But unfortunately this remains to be a neglected part of the solar fencing plan of the govt and at most of my HEC survey sites communities openly accuse the state govt for ignoring the local communities before handing over the solar fencing responsibility to one solar fencing manufacturing company from Banglore. There is still a tussle between the forest department and local communities over the solar fencing mismanagement issue

3. Elephant related human deaths are on rise in Uttarakhand. During my current elephant project work, 8 people have been killed by elephants in different parts of the project area.

4. Elephant deaths are also on rise in Uttarakhand. During the last 11 months of this elephant work, we got reports of five tuskers being killed in different parts of the project area.. The major cause of these deaths was HEC related like electricution, poisoning and shooting. From the Govt record, there has been reports of 128 elephant deaths 34 tiger deaths in the last eight years in Uttarakhand.As many as, 20 elephants have been killed in the last eight years only in the Haridwar Forest Division. The Six-Kilometer long busy express highway in the Chilla-Motichur elephant corridor has been a major fragmented site blocking seasonal migration of the elephants. I believe this is one major reason why elephants from the Haridwar FD remain round the year at one or two locations, mainly in the Shympur range increasing chances of more HEC related incidences.

6. There was no elephant awareness programme by any agency in any village among any people in the whole elephant range areas in Uttarakhand. Through the current FWS sposored elephant project it was possible for the first time to reach nearly all villages in the HEC range areas with elephant conservation and HEC mitigation messages for the communities. HEC affected villagers appreciate the initiatives taken under the current elephant project to educate the villagers about the elephants and their conservation
issue in Uttarakhand and other habitats in Asia.

7. The communities strongly need a lasting solution to the growing HEC problems. They show interest to get involved in the HEC mitigation strategy, through a coordinated community-based training programme for capacity building, sustainable livilihood, and crop protection measures.

8. Grassroots level forest staffs (rangers, foresters and forest foresters) demand for a regular training on sensitive issues focusing on elephant conservation, elephant coridor landscape management, HEC mitigation. These staff need to strenghtened through elephant conservation stewardship and capacity building training in the field situation to handle the challenging field work in the elephant habitat.

Elephants trample two to death in Jharkhand

Economic Times
20 September 2008

RANCHI: Two people were trampled to death and one was injured as elephants entered a village in Jharkhand's Ramgarh district on Friday and went on the rampage, attacking people and damaging property, police said.

A herd of elephants entered villages that come under the Kuju police station of Ramgargh, around 70 km from here, in the morning. They then went on the rampage in Ratwe village and trampled Khirodhar Mahto and Gulab Mahto to death. The elephants also wounded another villager, a police official said.

Forest officials later reached the village and drove the elephants away. The animals also damaged four houses.

Elephants often venture into human inhabited areas in the region, attack people, damage houses and destroy standing crops.

According to the forest department, over 400 people have died in the last six years in this human-elephant conflict and more than 700 have been injured.

The elephant population in Jharkhand is on the decline. The state is now home to 622 elephants as compared to the 772 in the last census.

Increase in elephant population in Mahaweli areas

By Kelum Bandara, Daily Mirror
September 20, 2008

Despite the worsening of human-elephant conflict which has claimed the lives of both species, the elephant population has drastically increased from 673 in 1993 to 2423 this year in the Mahaweli areas of the country.

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka made this observation yesterday while referring to a report of the census conducted covering the Mahaweli areas of Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Matale, Badulla and Ampara.

Addressing a ceremony held to mark the launch of the book ‘Wana Ali Samaga Dasa Wasarak’ (Ten-years in the company of wild elephants) by Veterinary Surgeon specialized in wild life Vijitha Perera.

Among the pachyderms encountered in this census, is a white elephant spotted in Ulhitiya, which the Minister cited as a sign of prosperity. Earlier, such an animal had been detected in the Yala National Park.

The highest number of 1552 elephants has been countered in Maduruoya. In Trincomalee, 219 elephants have been spotted, 211 in Kavudulla and 197 in Minneriya.

To read the full article click on the story title

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Villagers fume after wild elephant kills man

M. A. R. MANUKULASOORIYA , Daily News
September 11, 2008

Nearly 1,000 villagers from Gomadiyagala in the Polpithigama police area launched an agitation campaign against Wildlife Officers on Tuesday after a 25-year-old man was killed by a wild elephant near the Hakwatuna oya reservoir in the Polpithigama Divisional Secretariat division.

The Divisional Secretary promised that he would take every possible action on this matter.

The villagers forcibly opened the gate of the Divisional Secretary's office and entered the premises and made a complaint regarding the wild elephant menace to Divisional Secretary, R.M.R. Rathnayake.

For the full article click on the story title

Friday, September 05, 2008

Nearly 120 jumbo deaths every year

S.M. Jiffrey Abdeen Kandy, Daily News
September 1, 2008

In Sri Lanka nearly 120 elephants are killed by humans and in return about 65 people die after being attacked by elephants every year.
The number of cases of elephants being killed or run over by trains could be reduced if the train staff take precautions by giving the elephants enough warning in advance when they spot the elephants close to the rail tracks, Managing Trustee of the Bio Diversity and Elephant Conservation Trust and leading expert on Asian elephants and former planter Jayantha Jayawardena said.
He was addressing the members of the Rotary Club of Kandy presided over by Rotarian Ayesha Wijeratne at the Queens Hotel, Kandy.

For the full article click on the story title

Abductions go to the wilds

Sunday Times
August 24, 2008

A jumbo baby-smuggling racket, centred around the wilds in Habarana, has wildlife officials concerned, Malaka Rodrigo reports
“Please find my baby. If someone has kidnapped him, please return my baby.” Remember the plea of the mother of baby Gavish who was kidnapped from Kalubowila Hospital last year? Fortunately that story had a happy ending but the mother of the baby elephant discovered recently in captivity may still be lamenting in the wilds of Habarana.
The baby abduction from Kalubowila led to the discovery of a baby smuggling racket that shocked the nation. At present, Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department officers are investigating trails of baby elephants allegedly being abducted from the wild. The recovery of a baby elephant illegally held without a proper permit in an estate close to Colombo is probably only the tip of this iceberg, they feel. The elephant is now in the Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Home.

For the full article click on the story title

Let us not make this majestic gathering a thing of the past

By Srilal Miththapala, Sunday Times
August 24, 2008

It is late afternoon. The open plains of the giant Minneriya reservoir gradually cool as the sun slowly glides down to the horizon. The waters of the reservoir shimmer in the receding sunlight. Slowly from the surrounding scrub jungle a large dark shadow appears. The first matriarch slowly ambles on to the open plains, followed by her family group. They slowly disperse around and start grazing on the lush grass shoots growing on the damp earth, exposed by the receding water of the reservoir.

As if on cue, more dark shadows emerge, as matriarchs lead their herds out. In a short while there are over a hundred elephants, large and small, ‘strewn’ all over the plains, eating, playing, jostling , drinking , bathing…... The Gathering has begun.
A unique world phenomenon : A high concentration of elephants in a small area

For the full article click on the story title

Call to protect elephants

S. M. Jiffrey ABDEEN, Sunday Observer
August 24, 2008

Elephants live in herds are led by the oldest female elephant in the herd. The male elephant is driven away from the herd to prevent breeding. These are the strange ways of elephants said the Managing Trustee of Bio Diversity and Elephant Conservation Trust and leading expert on Asian elephants and former planter Jayantha Jayawardena.

He was addressing members of the Rotary Club of Kandy presided over by Rotarian Ayesha Wijeratne at the Queens Hotel, Kandy.

Jayawardena said that the elephants in Sri Lanka are highly threatened in spite of what anyone may say to the contrary. Explaining the reasons for the Human - Elephant conflict that have developed in the country and the efforts that are being made to mitigate these conflicts, he said that clearing forests to settle human beings is one of the main reasons.

For the full article click on the story title

Monday, June 23, 2008

Orphaned elephants back in the wild

June 20 2008
P. Karunakharan, Asian Pacific Post

As hundreds watched in silence, Sri Lankan mahouts shed tears as eight orphaned baby elephants they had raised for four years were released into the wild.

There was no hiding the love the mahouts felt for the young elephants as the eight animals were given a final dung bath to prepare for a new life in the Sri Lankan forests.

The dung bath rids them of the human smell, which would keep other herds away from the baby elephants.

As hundreds watched, the six male and two female elephants took their time making their way out of the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, about 200 km southeast of Colombo.

They were the eighth group of orphan elephants to be released into the wild in the last decade.

Over the years, Sri Lankan authorities have taken care of scores of orphaned baby elephants in sanctuaries.

To read the full article click on the story title



Friday, June 20, 2008

Sri Lanka releases eight orphaned elephants back into wild

By P. Karunakharan, Thaindian.com
June 14th, 2008

Udawalawe (Sri Lanka), June 14 (IANS) As hundreds watched in silent admiration, Sri Lankan mahouts shed tears as eight orphaned baby elephants they had raised for four years were Friday released into the wild. There was no hiding the love the mahouts had developed for the young elephants over the years as the eight animals were given a final dung bath to prepare for a new life in the Sri Lankan forests.

The dung bath was given to get rid of the human smell, which would keep other herds away from the baby elephants.

As hundreds of journalists, government officials and tourists watched, the six male and two female elephants - Asha, Marga, Atlas, Nalaka, Baby Blue, Tharos, Minoli and Senani - took their time to make their way out of the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, located some 200 km southeast of Colombo.

For the full article click on the story title

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Elephants caught in Sri Lanka war

Roland Buerk, BBC News
June 3, 2008

"Gunshot wound, this is a gunshot wound, and this one, there are so many gunshot wounds," said Sri Lankan government vet, Doctor Chandana Jayasinghe.

He was standing next to the huge, slumbering bull elephant in a clearing in the jungle, hypodermic syringe in hand.

"It is normal, they all have gunshot wounds."

The men of the Wildlife Conservation Department had ventured into the tangled scrub to find the wounded elephant.

Treading carefully not to snap twigs and prompt a charge, they had moved up close, so near they could see his ears flapping behind the thick greenery, before one man shot him with a tranquiliser dart.

Now he lay on his side, slow, heavy breaths rattling in his trunk.

They gave him antibiotic injections and sprayed disinfectant on his wounds, some old and calloused, others new and raw.

To read the full story click on the blog title

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Elephant menace for village off Galneva

Daily News
April 9, 2008

Cliche is a feature of bad journalism, it is said, but when it comes to the reporting of stories about country folk living in the human habitats close to the natural habitats of wild creatures in rural Sri Lanka pouring out their troubles to the media over the infiltration of wild elephants or other smaller wild animals into their territories, a local reporter's poor vocabulary is not enough to compile reports again and again on the same monotonous themes sans a cliche-ridden style.

Well, here in Aachirigama in the backwoods of Oththapahuva, off Galneva, in the Mahaweli H zone - peasants are complaining of wild elephants that have become an acute nuisance to them and it is difficult to find out fresh terms in writing the story and it is to be regretted that the authorities may find cliches but it has to be noted that the poor 'Oththapahuvans - who are desperate for 'official help' - ought not to be neglected. Peasants in Oththapahuva say that their paddies in Aachirigama are vulnerable to the wild elephants menace.

To read the full story click on the blog title



Man-jumbo conflict again in A’pura

By Athula Bandara, Daily Mirror
March 24, 2008

The residents of several areas including Shravastipura, Siyambalawewa and Aluthwewa in Anuradhapura are facing problems from wild elephants.

They have complained to the police and the Wildlife Conservation Department that a herd of wild elephants that roam the human habitat after dusk had destroyed more than 400 acres of cultivated land and 15 houses.

They accused the Wildlife Conservation Department of not taking any steps to chase the elephants into a forest reserve.

However the Department’s Assistant Director, (NWP) Manjula Ariyaratne said they would be taking steps to issue elephant crackers to the villagers soon.

Wild elephants fall victim to Sri Lanka war strategy

Simon Gardner, Reuters
March 19, 2008

PIMBURELLEGAMA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Shaking his head at an elephant carcass rotting by a lush paddy field in north Sri Lanka, park warden J.A. Weerasingha counts the cost of a state initiative to arm villagers against Tamil Tiger rebels.

While Sri Lanka has long wrestled with a human-elephant conflict that kills dozens of animals and people annually, elephant deaths are up sharply -- and it's clear why.

In what the military says is a bid to protect villages in the far north as the government and its Tiger foes wage a new phase of a 25-year civil war, farmers have been given shotguns and a civil defense force semi-automatic weapons for protection.

But the plan has backfired. The recipients are turning them increasingly on pachyderms who stray onto their crops or damage their homes in search of food -- with elephant deaths up 13 percent in 2007 from a year earlier.

"They are shooting my animals," Weerasingha lamented on a visit to this remote village on the periphery of Wilpattu National Park in the island's northwest. "They had the chance to just scare the elephant away. It had only come to the boundary of the paddy field. Instead they shot it."

To read the full story click on the blog title


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wild elephants hold up Sri Lanka vote

Agence France Presse
March 11, 2008

COLOMBO (AFP) — Security forces armed with loud hailers were deployed in eastern Sri Lanka Monday to drive away wild elephants blocking access to polling booths, police said.

Villagers in Wellaveli told the authorities that they were unable to vote at the first local elections in 14 years because a herd of elephants had blocked their polling booth, a police official in the area said.

"We sent a team of commandos in armoured personnel carriers and loud hailers and sirens to drive away the elephants," the official said. "The roads have now been cleared."

Security had been stepped up in the area with the deployment of over 6,000 police and soldiers amid fears that Tamil Tiger rebels could try to disrupt the council elections in an area from where they were driven out in July last year.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

No reasons to fear that elephant population is diminishing

A new transition from human-elephant conflict to human-elephant coexistence
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Champika Ranawaka, Daily Mirror
March 5. 2008

News reports from Pretoria South Africa revealed that the South African Government was reversing the 1995 ban on killing elephants to help control their booming population. Environment Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk told reporters ‘Our simple reality is that elephant population density has risen so much in some southern African countries that there is concern about impacts on the landscape. The viability of other species and livelihoods safety of people living within elephant ranges.” It is also reported that South African elephant population has ballooned to more than 20,000 from 8,000 in 1995, when international pressure led to a ban on killing them.

It is evident that most parts of the African continent from time to time has used ‘culling’ as a mitigatory measure to control growing elephant population and thereby human elephant conflict. Hunting, sale of ivory and other elephant parts has been a lucrative business in Africa.

In Asian countries (Burma., Thailand, India etc.) capturing and domestication are used as instruments to control the elephant population.

In 1952, the then Director of the Department of Wildlife of Sri Lanka Mr. C.W. Nicholas issued 186 permits to kill wild elephants who were roaming in villages. It should be noted that those days Sri Lanka had a forest cover over 45% of the land mass and elephant population was reduced greatly due to mass killing by British colonials.

To read the full story click on the blog title


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Gaja Mithuro to protect elephants

Sri Lanka Daily News
January 2, 2007

The Wildlife Department has made arrangements to implement a special project called Gaja Mithuro (Elephants' friends) to protect wild elephants faced with the threat of extinction and also to uplift the living conditions of families displaced as a result of the human elephant conflict.

This project is implemented with the help of the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry. Under this project, it has been planned to allocate Rs. 118 million to erect electrified fences and complete the work within three years.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Crops devastated by elephants - Wasgamuwa

Sunil R.Pathirana, Daily Mirror
November 20, 2007

The residents of Minipe area recently staged a protest in front of Wilgamuwa Divisional Secretariat demanding an immediate solutions to the wild elephant threat in the area. Recently a herd of wild elephants from Wasgamuwa forest reserve roamed into Radunewewa village in Minipe colony destroyed 14 houses and caused serious injuries to several farmers. The protestors requested the Divisional Secretary A.B.Herath to take up the issue with the Wildlife Conservation Department. However their attempt to enter the Divisional Secretariat was prevented by acting OIC Wilgamuwa police .H.M.B.Herath who explained matters to the protestors. The farmers in Minipe farmer colony pointed out that devastation of crops caused by the wild elephants amounted to several millions of rupees. They stressed the need to launch a crash programme to prevent the human- elephant conflict.

To read the full story click on the blog title


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Asian jumbo project gets underway

L.B. Senaratne, Sunday Times
November 18, 2007
A project called "Managing the Health and Reproduction of Elephant
Populations in Asia" was recently initiated by the Faculty of Veterinary
Medicine and Animal Science of the University of Peradeniya, together with
partners in Universities of Thailand (Kasetsart and Chiang Mai), the
Netherlands (Utrecht) and the UK (Royal Veterinary College) with funding
from the European Union "EU-Asia Link Project".

To read the full story click on the blog title


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nature also victim of war

By Malaka Rodrigo, Sunday Times
November 11, 2007

She is a tragic reminder of the cost of war. 'Sama', the Pinnawela elephant who lost part of her right front leg, below the knee to a land mine. Today she hops around on three legs to keep up with the other jumbos at the elephant orphanage. Veterinarians fear that her lifespan may be short as she may develop spinal problems due to her abnormal gait. Wildlife is an overlooked casualty in the country's two-decades-long civil war. Sri Lanka's elephant population in the war-torn areas has increasingly become victims of the war. Since the Mavilaru battle last year, nearly 15 elephants have suffered injuries after stepping on anti-personnel mines in the Eastern Province.

To read the full story click on the blog title

On the elephant trail

By Lakwimashi Perera, Sunday Times
November 11, 2007

Following the footprints of Asia’s majestic beast, Thusitha Ranasinghe, founder of Eco Maximus will be collecting elephant dung from intense human – elephant conflict areas to be turned into paper and sent to over 10 countries around the world. Eco Maximus is venturing into Dambulla trying to add economic value to the animal which is regarded as a pest and detested in the area.

“Dung from the elephants used in elephant safaris in Habarana will be used,” Ranasinghe, who is also the Managing Director of Eco Maximus, told The Sunday Times FT, adding that they will also look at buying

droppings of wild elephants that can be collected from the jungles by the villagers.

To read the full story click on the blog title

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sri Lanka elephant population grew within last 50 years

ColomboPage News Desk
September 18, 2007

Sept 18, Colombo: The Colombo University Senior Professor on Ecology Sarath Kotagama says that through the estimates in the past 100 years and the records on man – elephant conflicts, he can prove that the country’s elephant population grew despite the popular belief of decline.

He points out that the elephant population was less than 1,000 according to 1953 estimations. The 1973 estimates accounted the elephant population between 1600 – 2200. According to an estimate conducted by Dr. Nandana Athapattu and Mangala Silva in 1993, the elephant population was between 3,000 and 4,000.

According to current figures, 1,500 elephants live in Northwestern wildlife zone. There are 300 elephants in Udawalawe and 400 in Minneriya. In addition, 350 elephants were chased to Lunugamwehera in Walawe wild elephant management operation.

Scientists point out that there are around 1500 more elephants in other areas.

The majority of the elephants live in wetlands, discarded cultivation lands and small jungles where their natural food, short shrubs are found in abandon.

Around 50% of the elephants are believed to live outside the national parks.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Forty wild elephants killed in Trincomalee district in 2007

ColomboPage News Desk
September 12, 2007

Sept 12, Colombo: The Wildlife Department office of the Trincomalee district of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka announced that 40 wild elephants were killed so far in this year in Trincomalee district alone.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent Sigiriya area Wildlife officers and villagers were working round the clock to rescue two wild elephants that had fallen into a cultivation well near Indugaswewa on Monday night.

Sri Lanka’s elephant population numbering around 3000 is facing rapid extinction due to manmade disasters. The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Champika Ranwaka recently said that the Ministry needs Rs. 10 billion per year for the management of wild elephants in the country. However, the Ministry receives only Rs. 3 billion for all its work, the Minister says.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rs. 10 billion needed to manage wild elephants of Sri Lanka

ColomboPage
August 31, 2007

Aug 31, Colombo: Sri Lanka Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Champika Ranwaka says that the Ministry needs Rs. 10 billion per year for the management of wild elephants in the country. However, the Ministry receives only Rs. 3 billion for all its work, the Minister says.

The Minister also pointed out that the shortage of tamed elephants would be a problem in future since there are only 137 tamed elephants while there are 72 famous cultural pageants per year countrywide.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka has only 17 tuskers among the 3,000 strong elephant population. Of those elephants only 1,200 live in lands belonged to the Department of Wild Life.

Addressing a function at the Grand Oriental Hotel, the Minister said that Burma has 3,000 tamed elephants among its 6,000 strong elephant population.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sri Lanka Railway and Wildlife Department claim three more lives of elephants

ColomboPage News Desk
August 25, 2007

Aug 25, Colombo: Sri Lanka Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Champika Ranwaka has ordered a disciplinary investigation against the Wildlife officials believed to be responsible for the tragic deaths of three wild elephants.

Two young cubs and a female elephant were run over by the Colombo-bound express train on Friday (24) morning at Kitulkotte near 153rd milepost on Colombo-Trincomalee railway when the train hit a herd of elephants crossing the railway lines. Two more elephants were also injured in the accident.

Sri Lanka’s dwindling elephant population has lost 74 members within the first eight months of this year alone. Another elephant was killed and two were injured by the same train within this month in the same area, an elephant corridor in short of signboards for train engine drivers.

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources says that wildlife officials had to be deployed on duty in the train to avoid such incidents. However, they haven’t been in the fatal train for some reason.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pilot project to conserve elephants

Chamikara Weerasinghe, Sri Lanka Daily News

August 17, 2007

COLOMBO: The Environment and Natural Resources Ministry has stepped up action to implement a pilot project to arrest the human-elephant conflict in Yala and Lunugamwehera through its recently established Elephant Conservation Trust Fund.

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Champika Ranawaka said yesterday that bureaucratic red tape had been overcome to carry out the project.

The Government has decided to allocate Rs. 100 million to the fund from the Treasury to be returned once sufficient funds are generated into the Trust Fund by the Ministry.

Ranawaka said: "Moves will be made to enhance the elephant habitat under the project with interventions based on elephant behavioral patterns at the Yala National Park and Lunugamwehera forest reserve."

He explained that they will do so by restoring tanks in the park and through range reduction by fencing.

TO READ THE FUL STORY CLICK ON THE BLOG TITLE

Monday, August 06, 2007

Don’t make national parks ghettos for our elephants

Sunday Times

August 5, 2007

Jayantha Jayewardene, Managing Trustee of the Biodiversity & Elephant Conservation Trust offers some points to ponder on the human- elephant conflict

The conservation of a species necessitates the provision of all resources (habitat, security, food, water etc.) necessary to maintain a stable population into the long-term future. Conservation has two aspects; one is the protection of the species and the other, scientific management of the species and the resources necessary for its conservation. The continued existence of the Asian elephant in the wild is threatened not only by the actions of some but also due to others not taking any action.

In May this year the Minister of Natural Resources Champika Ranawaka brought together many of those concerned with and interested in elephant conservation. It was to a great extent, a fruitful meeting in that the present situation with regard to elephant conservation in general and human elephant conflicts in particular, were discussed in detail. The Department of Wildlife Conservation made a presentation of the work that they had hitherto done. More importantly Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando made a presentation of the results of the research on wild elephants that he and his team had carried out for the last eight years in the southern part of the island.

Dr. Fernando’s research results are important in that they disprove some of the perceptions that our conservation activities have been based on for a long time. For instance his findings with regard to elephant corridors and home ranges are different to what we had assumed earlier. In his presentation he also gave us new options that we could use as strategies for our elephant conservation planning and activities in the future. The Minister, at this meeting, stressed that it was a priority of the Ministry and the Department of Wildlife Conservation to carry out pilot projects to test the new strategies. This, I think, is a positive start.

To read the full story click on the blog title

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shell shocked jumbos add to Lankan Tamils' woes

PK Balachandran
June 19, 2007

With their jungle habitats subjected to incessant aerial, artillery and
mortar shelling in the past few months, elephants in the Eastern Sri Lankan
districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee had to flee, much like the Tamils
from the villages in the vicinity.
"This time, we have had Internally Displaced Elephants (IDEs) in addition to
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It's time we had an IDE rehabilitation
scheme also," remarked a foreign aid worker in a lighter vein.
But it has not been a laughing matter for the Tamil villager.
At the height of the shelling and aerial bombardment, hoards of disoriented
and angry jumbos had descended on the villages on the edges of their
habitats, destroying huts and even pucca houses.
Tiled roofs were smashed in the frenzied search for grain. In a trice,
whole plantain farms disappeared and standing crops were in a shambles.
"About 2,000 houses were destroyed in West Batticaloa, more than the number
destroyed by the shelling and aerial bombing!" aid worker U Kumar told
Hindustan Times. But an International Red Cross official said the number
might have been 500.
The most affected villages in Batticaloa district were Kachikodiaru,
Swamimadam, Thandamalai, Ayithiamalai, Unnichchai and Pavatkodichenai.
The situation had apparently been worse in Trincomalee district. "If 5 per
cent of the houses were damaged by war, about 40 per cent have been damaged
by elephants," The Sunday Times said, quoting the Verugal Divisional
Secretary, A Umamaheshwaran.
The Sri Lankan government, burdened as it is with the IDPs, seems to have
little or no time for the IDEs. With the Thoppigala jungles set to become a
major theatre of war in the coming weeks, jumbo migration and depredations
are set to increase rather than decrease, the refugees from the affected
villages say.
LTTE avoids killing jumbos
The LTTE's military spokesman, Rasiah Ilanthirayan, claimed that unlike the
Sri Lankan Armed Forces, the LTTE's military units cared for the
environment.
"We have strict rules about treating wildlife. We have identified the
endangered species and these could not be killed. The elephant is one of
them. We do not shell areas which are populated by these species," he said.
"In case elephants encroach on our area looking for water during the dry
season, we are expected to shift our camps rather than drive the jumbos away
or kill them," Ilanthirayan said.
Island wide conflict
The Man-Elephant conflict is not peculiar to the war-zone in Sri Lanka.
Economic development, human encroachment, and climatic changes have led to
elephants leaving their habitats and attacking human settlements in the past
50 years.
"The threatened farmer kills the intruder," say University of Peradeniya
zoologists, Charles Santiapillai and Chaminda Wijesundara.
In the past 50 years, 1,500 to 3,000 elephants may have been killed by irate
villagers, they say. In 2001 alone, 300 elephants, mostly bulls, had
perished.
"It takes about 5 sq km of land to support an elephant without upsetting the
natural balance that exists between the elephant and the thorn-scrub habitat
in which most of our wildlife occurs today.
Therefore, the present population of about 3,500 elephants would require
about 17,500 sq km or 27 per cent of the land area for its exclusive use.
The system of protected areas covers only about 12.5 per cent of the land
area (or 8,200 sq km). Thus, national parks alone cannot ensure the long
term survival of the elephants," Satiapillai and Wijesundara say.
They emphasise the need for an island-wide awareness of the reasons for the
Man-Elephant conflict and for steps to avoid actions, which exacerbate the
conflict.
Indiscriminate shelling is one action, which should be avoided.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sugar factory to come up in elephant path?

By Isuri Kaviratne, The Sunday Times

June 3, 2007

The Government has approved a proposal to clear 20,000-25,000 hectares in the Maduruoya forest in Uva-Wellassa area for a new sugar factory, without an Environmental Impact Assessment, Padma Udayashantha, Moneragala District MP charged.

He said the proposal had been approved by the Cabinet on January 10.“The Central Environment Authority is making the assessment now and it is reported the place is not suitable for a sugar factory,” he said.

“According to the assessment, there is an elephant path between the Maduruoya forest and the Nilgala Ganga. So there would be disastrous consequences if it was blocked as it will affect the route of the wild elephants,” he said.

Mr. Udayashantha said the JVP would continue to protest against this proposed project if the Government fails come up with solutions for the environmental problems that might arise due to the project being implemented.

Click on the title for the full story

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Elephants unlikely foe for Sri Lanka's war-displaced

Reuters
May 30 2007

Tamil farmer Sabaratnam Somaratnam abandoned his home in east Sri Lanka fearing it might be shelled.

He returned after months in a refugee camp to find the house flattened, and stunned to find the destruction had nothing to do with the fighting between government forces and Tamil Tigers.

"Look," he said, gesturing at a large round depression in the dry earth. "There are elephant's footprints. There's dung all over the place.

"We had stored bags of rice in our house. The elephant has destroyed our house to get to it," he added, his sarong trailing in dusty, parched earth mixed with tell-tale rice grains.

Behind him, his house lies in a ruined jumble of baked earth bricks and buckled iron sheeting.

He, his wife and their five children must now live in a rudimentary shed covered with a tarpaulin, much like the one they have lived in for months after fleeing the war.

His neighbours suffered the same fate.

To read the full story click on thr blog title

Monday, May 14, 2007

More elephants die by home guards' weapons in Sri Lanka

ColomboPage News Desk
May 13, 2007

May 13, Colombo: The number of elephants that die from gunshot injuries in Sri Lanka has increased since automatic weapons were provided to home guards in villages under terrorist threat, Wildlife Department figures point out.

Some 160 elephants died in the North Western Wildlife Zone last year, and 23 of them were victims of home guards’ guns.

Automatic rifles have been provided to home guards to protect their villages from the LTTE. Over 200 elephants died last year in Sri Lanka due to human-elephant conflict.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Away with the elephants!

Sri Lanka
May 11, 2007

The living elephant is as much a part of the culture of Sri Lanka as the Temple of the tooth or Adam’s Peak. They are used to grace big religious pageants and finally given the ultimate honor of carrying the most revered and venerated relic that this country has, the Tooth relic of the Enlightened One. Today in the wild where all these elephants initially come from, and where they have lived from before the time of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka, they have been harassed chased and shot. This appalling indictment is not made as a result of a forgotten memory from an age gone by when the white man ruled this land and shot elephants indiscriminately, but this is today’s reality in the name of wild life protection.

To read the full story click on the link in the blog title

Domesticating elephants- Is it really the answer?

Gagani Weerakoon, Sri Lanka
May 11, 2007

The argument for and increasingly against domesticating elephants as a solution to the human-elephant conflict facing the country, has reached dizzy heights today. The glaring examples direct a very definitive finger of accusation against the authorities

The recent case of an elephant ‘allegedly’ captured by Wildlife Conservation Department (DWLC) officials-who later attempted to convince the Environment Minister to ceremoniously hand it over to Dalada Maligawa (Temple of Tooth Relic), is fighting for its life after being chained at an estate in Mawanella for weeks.

According to environmentalists, this is the first case reported of an elephant being injured of chain cuts to its bones. The 45-year bull elephant, which was captured at Dahaiyagala area in the last week of March, was kept chained for more than a month in the Mawanella estate.

According to the sources, the elephant was suffering from chain cuts in all four legs out of which the injuries on the left rear leg is the worst.

A senior environmentalist charged that the elephant was so badly injured since it was inhumanly chained for weeks without receiving the proper attention.

To read the full story click on the link in the blog title


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Elephant calf's reunion with its mother soon at Orissa sanctuary

By Sarada Lahangir, Daily India
May 7, 2007

Bhubaneswar, May 7: The Chandaka Elephant Sanctuary in Orissa is eagerly awaiting the reunion of an elephant calf with its mother, week after its separation from the group.

The seven-month-old calf was reportedly abandoned by its mother at a duck breeding centre near Ghatikia on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

As a herd of elephants sneaked into an agricultural university compound, the calf fell into a shallow well and injured itself. Forest rangers rescued the isolated elephant calf.

These elephants herd had reportedly come from the sanctuary.

To read the full story click on the blog title


FROM POOH TO PAPER - NORTH DAKOTA COMPANY USES PRODUCT TO HELP ELEPHANTS IN SRI LANKA

World Wire press release
May 7, 2007

GRAND FORKS, North Dakota, May 7, 2007 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Sri Lanka is home to about a tenth of the estimated global total of 40,000 Asian elephants in the wild. Elephants are not being killed in Sri Lanka for their tusks, as tuskers are rare; they are not being killed for meat, since no one eats elephant meat; they are not being killed for their hides, since there is no market for elephant hides in the leather industry. Instead, elephants are being killed simply because they interfere with agriculture. Since 1950, it is likely that more than 4,000 elephants have been destroyed as a direct consequence of the conflict between man and elephant.

The elephant is running out of space in Sri Lanka. Most of the protected areas inhabited by elephants are small, less than 1000 sq. km in size (900 sq. miles). Nevertheless, elephants, especially the bulls, may range over hundreds of square kilometers in the course of a season. Their sheer size and gargantuan appetite mean that elephants and people cannot live together where agriculture is the dominant form of land use, unless the damage they cause to farmers can be compensated.

To read the full story click on the blog title


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Driven to death


The Daily Times

April 1, 2007

Is the very move – relocating elephants in the national parks – aimed at protecting these majestic animals killing them? Kumudini Hettiarachchi reports on a visit to the Lunugamvehera National Park where elephants appear to be dying of starvation.

Are elephants starving to death? Not outside but in the very place they have been driven to in the name of protection and safety – the Lunugamvehera National Park.

Several of the elephants, about 250 herded into the Lunugamvehera Park, under two phases of an elephant drive that began in 2005, may have died for lack of food, resulting in malnourishment and disease, The Sunday Times learns, after a visit to the area this week. What will be the fate of the remaining elephants, considering that the dry season is just starting?

“I saw three elephants dead in the park,” says T.A. Ajith Kumara, 18, who lives just outside the boundary, explaining that their carcasses were by the bund of the Lunugamvehera tank, in the jungle.

Giving a time period of one and a half months, just after the tank reached spill level, he says others in his village have seen another eight or ten dead elephants.

Recently, the elephants were always near the electric fence, put up at the boundary, but they are no longer here because wanajeevi (wildlife) people have cut a massive drain, he says, pointing to a large swathe of earth churned up by bulldozers.

A long stretch of the park off the Wellawaya-Tissamaharama Road is now barricaded not only by the electric fence but also this deep drain. At night, the fence is guarded by wildlife officials from temporary cadjan-thatched open huts. The fence is also hung with small kerosene containers which are lit at night to keep the elephants beyond and within the park itself.

Ajith says recently he counted more than 150 maha evun and pataw (big ones and babies) one night, adding that some elephants had wounds and rashes and most of them were godak kettu (very thin). “Some of them who used to come with babies later came alone, most probably the babies may have died,” he says, explaining that wanajeevi people come in regularly to treat the elephants, when informed.

“Even last night, I saw a very big cow elephant with a baby that was thin and weak,” says Ajith while his mother and brother confirm that even wanajeevi people have mentioned that the elephants do not have enough food in the park. The elephants also fight each other, with most confrontations occurring between the resident park elephants and those who have been brought in.

A short walk into the park through an opening in the electric fence left for the fresh-water fishermen to have access to the Lunugamvehera tank comes as an eye-opener.

The land is already parched and this is only the beginning of the dry season which would extend up to the end of September. The only scrub left without being touched are those that cannot be eaten by the elephants. The andara (thorny) bushes, the fodder of elephants, have all been stripped to the core.

Several kilometres away, in their home, with the main road on one side and the electric fence of the Lunugamvehera Park on the other, husband-wife W.K. Anurasiri and H.G. Dayawathie are only too willing to explain the plight of the elephants while also pointing out that Wildlife Department officials are trying to do their best amidst many problems.

“Yes, the elephants don’t have anything to eat and we have been feeding them kehel bada through the fence,” says Anurasiri, blaming the shortage of food within on the people who are using the area as grazing grounds for large herds of cattle which add up to many thousands.

The cattle eat up all the grass on the tank bed, leaving nothing for the elephants. Then the elephants attempt to breakthrough the electric fence and forage for food in the villages close by. That’s the problem in this area. When the electric fence is on, the thin and gaunt elephants walk up and down along the fence looking for food, waiting for whatever we can give them, he says.

“We heard of the deaths of three elephants within about a month very recently. We need elephants. Do you know that in the Maha we cultivators know that it is going to rain in about six-seven days when the elephants get together and keep trumpeting for a while,” he says, also pointing a finger at the fishermen who frequent the tanks inside the park for disturbing elephant habitat.

His views are echoed by many in the area including Kusuma Senarath Abeywardena, who runs the family boutique along the Wellawaya-Tissamaharama Road, close to the park.

All wildlife officials The Sunday Times spoke to declined to confirm or deny whether elephants were dying of starvation in the park.

What has gone wrong at Lunugmavehera? Is this a problem only at this park or is it reflected elsewhere in places such as Yala and Wilpattu, where elephants have been driven and imprisoned? Should Sri Lanka continue with elephant drives to collect these animals from areas that are their birthright and then put them into parks where already there is a resident elephant population?

Several wildlife officials told The Sunday Times that the department maybe rethinking its policy about elephant drives in the light of new developments.

“What can we do?” questioned one, explaining that the moment there are one or two incidents with elephants, there is a lot of pressure from people and politicians to “do something” about it, with strong signals that the elephants should be removed from those areas.

The Sunday Times understands that under the drive conducted last year, elephants from forests around the left bank of the Walawe, mostly Forest Department lands, covering more than 350 sq km. were herded to Lunugamvehera Park which is around 250 sq.km. The park itself may have had about 100 elephants and around 250 have been added to this number. There is a large number in the park but the spadework necessary to accommodate them had not been done before the drive.

While this may have already resulted in some elephants dying from lack of food, yet another drive was done two weeks ago into the same park, where another 100 elephants were driven in from state lands around Pelawatte, north of the park. The Sunday Times learns that another drive is to take place into Wilpattu soon.

The Director-General of the Wildlife Conservation Department, Dayananda Kariyawasam was unavailable for comment as he was in the field, both on Wednesday and Thursday.

The need of the moment is for the department to launch an immediate investigation to ascertain whether elephants are dying of starvation. If these majestic beasts are facing death and disease for lack or shortage of fodder, urgent steps are essential to save them right now before the dry season takes its toll on these hapless creatures.

As the guardians of a heritage that belongs to the whole country, the Department of Wildlife Conservation has a responsibility to find out and inform the public of the wellbeing and fate of the elephants that have been driven to Lunugamvehera, an operation which cost over Rs. 160 million in public funds.

The people of Sri Lanka demand answers.

-------

Things have only got worse: Villagers

In the throes of death. A long and belaboured intake of breath, then an equally shuddering exhalation. No massive struggle, just the forelegs pushing the earth and the eye glazing over.

A giant has been felled. We were witness to a heart-rending death – the death of a majestic bull elephant surrounded by concerned villagers on the dried up bed of Tammennawewa in Lunugamvehera just before noon on Tuesday. The villagers had covered the dying elephant with large leafy branches to ward off the noonday heat while bringing water in small plastic buli (cans) to wet it and also pour into its mouth.

This was yet another death due to gunshot injuries, the villagers told The Sunday Times while a young woman carrying a baby sighed sadly and said, “We are angry with elephants when they crash into our chenas or home-gardens but very sad when we see them drop like this.”

She had put the human-elephant conflict in a nutshell, giving voice not only to the situation the men, women and children in the area are faced with but also to the plight of elephants.

During a day’s walkabout in the area from which elephants were driven into Lunugamvehera Park, we talk to knots of people. Three men about to leave on their bicycles looking for kuli weda are vociferous about the ali karadara.

“We are awake the whole night because the elephants, especially the young males come to our doorstep. Last year one elephant charged the wall of a hut and killed a woman,” says A.G. Siripala very critical of the drive.

Adds K.G.A. Nishantha: “Even if a small child falls ill in the night we are unable to take him to hospital for fear of elephants.”

The consensus is that kisi hevillak, belillak nethuwa (without checking out), the drive was carried out. While a majority were herded into the Lunugmavehera Park, many were left behind and are creating a bigger problem than what villagers faced earlier, because now elephants are familiar with the ali wedi and thunder crackers used to chase them.

According to U.G. Jayalath elephants from other areas have been brought to the area and this has caused numerous problems to the villagers numbering about 70 families. Not only are W. Gamini and M.A. Sirimawathi willing to talk to us but also take us around their large plot of land to show jumbo footprints. “Can’t grow a thing here,” says Sirimavathi, adding that she met an elephant face-to-face in the garden in the gloaming and was so scared that she rushed into their tiny hut and shut the door. “I didn’t step out until the next morning.”
Come walk in the wela and see what destruction the elephants have caused, suggests H.S. Dahanayake relating an incident where the previous night his neighbour had to leave his hut and hide in the bedda because an elephant very nearly pushed the hut’s wall down.

Most of these villagers have also helped in the elephant drive. D.J.S. Weerasuriya gives details of the drive. “The elephants were rounded up from areas such as Ridiyagama. Madunagala and Suriyawewa and brought close to Lunugamvehera in August 2005, when the drive had to be called off due to heavy rain. Then in August 2006 it was initiated once again and about 350 elephants were rounded up and led to the park. But about 175, among whom are about 45 thaniyas ehe meha vuna (the loners moved away),” he says giving the final verdict that the drive was a 99% failure.

While those days the villagers had to contend with only about four to five elephants now they have to deal with a large number, he says.

M.K. Gunapala who keeps vigil in his tree hut high up, protecting his melon crop against elephants, says after about 6 in the evening people are frightened to get out of their homes.

All these complaints and grumblings are from the area elephants were driven from. While it is crystal clear that the drive has not solved the problems the villagers had with elephants, it seems to have aggravated the issue. While most villagers lay the blame for a “failed” elephant drive squarely at the door of the Wildlife Conservation Department, others claim wildlife officials are doing their best in a difficult situation.

Those in the fifth colony warned us against going to the next village, the sixth colony, as my colleague was in khaki slacks. “People may mistake you for wanajeevi……they are waiting for them to come,” said U.G. Jayalath.

Leaving recriminations aside, what needs to be done is damage control and implementation of effective long-term remedies, not only for the protection of humans but also of elephants.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The trouble with elephants

Central Chronicle

March 21, 2007

Yala, January 25, 2007: Sri Lanka's only known crossed-tusk elephant in the wild, known locally as Dalaputtuwa dies of paralysis caused by gunshot wounds in the periphery of a highly protected national park. The tusker, a rare sight in Sri Lankan jungles, was shot by 35-year old Punchi Banda Samarathunge as he stood guard over his war zone-bordering village on the outskirts of the National Park with a T-56 rifle.
The bullet hit the front leg of the elephant, who limped back to the jungle in pain and fear. It took another painful week before his death, by which time, the majestic male was totally paralysed neck down.
Punchi Banda and his shotgun were taken into police custody, as the final hours of Dalaputtuwa became a matter of national mourning.

To read the full story click on the link in the blog title

Bonding through chena

A pilot project aims at making chena cultivators, the elephants’ number one enemy, their very protectors.

Kumudini Hettiarachchi, Sunday Times

March 24, 2007

For thousands of years the human-elephant conflict has dogged Sri Lanka. The plaintive cry in any dry zone village would be: “Aliya gahala merune” or “Ali ape kumburu vinasha kara”. (Died after being charged by an elephant or our cultivations were destroyed by elephants)

The pilot project is to be initiated in the south adjacent to the Yala National Park, The Sunday Times understands.

It will be implemented as soon as possible, said the Director-General of the Wildlife Conservation Department, Dayananda Kariyawasam.

Is there a permanent solution not only to this elephantine problem but also concrete measures that could be taken to conserve this majestic


To read the full story click on the link in the blog title

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sri Lanka grapples with elephant-human conflict

Tharuka Dissanaike, Down to Earth
March 9, 2007

Yala, January 25, 2007: Sri Lanka’s only known crossed-tusk elephant in the wild, known locally as Dalaputtuwa dies of paralysis caused by gunshot wounds in the periphery of a highly protected national park. The tusker, a rare sight in Sri Lankan jungles, was shot by 35-year old Punchi Banda Samarathunge as he stood guard over his war zone-bordering village on the outskirts of the National Park with a T-56 rifle.

The bullet hit the front leg of the elephant, who limped back to the jungle in pain and fear. It took another painful week before his death, by which time, the majestic male was totally paralysed neck down.

To read the full story click on the link in the blog title
Punchi Banda and his shotgun were taken into police custody, as the final hours of Dalaputtuwa became a matter of national mourning.

The elephant enjoys protected status and shooting one entails imprisonment and heavy fines. But in the remote jungle-bordering village sympathies lie clearly with Punchi Banda. For one, these villagers depend on ‘home guards’—a paramilitary force of ill-trained but armed men who are expected to protect villagers from possible terrorist attacks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Elephants as Partners in Conservation

Feizal Samath,
Inter Press Service News Agency
March 5, 2007
COLOMBO, Mar 5 (IPS) - Decades after unsuccessful attempts to minimise the elepehant-human conflict in Sri Lanka, authorities are trying out a bold experiment -- allowing both mammals to live together in harmony with the environment.
Some 50 to 60 people -- mostly chena (slash and burn) cultivators -- are killed annually by marauding elephants in search of food. Drives to shift herds to nature parks, away from human settlements, have not been very successful.
New research by Sri Lankan scientists have found that, rather than clashing with the large animals, humans can recruit them as partners in the protection and conservation of these animals generally considered their number one enemy.
Thousands of poor Sri Lankans venture into the jungle and grow cash crops on government land without permits -- often in areas which are stomping grounds for the elephants. The elephants see in the chenas an ideal food source. Although illegal, the government has over decades turned a blind eye to chena cultivations because of a shortage of employment.
In the experiment based on scientific data, the Department of Wildlife Conservation and scientists are embarking on a model project to ensure that elephants and cultivators live alongside each other, with the cultivators being the protectors of elephants.

For the full story click on the blog title

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Human-elephant conflict killed 64 wild elephants and 20 people in northwestern Sri Lanka last year

ColomboPage
January 16, 2007
Jan 16, Colombo: Sixty-four wild elephants and twenty people died in Sri Lanka's North Western Wild Life Zone in 2006 as a result of human-elephant conflict, according to figures from the Department of Wild Life Conservation.
Six of the 64 dead wild elephants were tuskers, the Department said.
Hunting for tusks, shooting to avoid crop damage, railway accidents and poisoning were the major causes for the elephant deaths.

To read the full story click on the blog title

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Population boom, cause for human-elephant conflict

Vindya Amaranayake
The Nation
December 31, 2006
At least 1834 elephants perished and 742 humans killed due to human-elephant conflict during the last 15 years. Prof. Sarath Kotagama of Colombo University, presenting the data said, “The highest number of human deaths numbering 81, was reported in 1999.” He added that among the elephant deaths, 1192 were males and of the overall deaths 70 percent was due to gunshot wounds. Close to 152 babies were orphaned due to these deaths. “The main cause for the human elephant conflict can be identified due to the loss of elephant home range. With the increase in human population, elephant habitats gradually shrunk,” Kotagama said. Planned and mostly unplanned development resulting in encroachment into elephant habitats due to massive increase in human population is one of the main reasons for the loss of elephant home range.

To read the full story click on the blog title

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thirteen elephants die in rail accidents in Sri Lanka's Polonnaruwa district



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Colombo Page
December 5, 2006

Dec 05, Colombo: The Sri Lanka Wild Life Department says at least 13 elephants have died since January 2006 in railway accidents between the Minneriya and Galoya railway stations in the Polonnaruwa district of the North Central Province.
A she-elephant with a young cub collided with the night mail train from Colombo to Polonnaruwa yesterday. Both died on the spot, derailing the train and paralysing train services on the line for more than 24 hours.
To read the full story click on the blog title

Monday, November 13, 2006

Protest halts auction of rogue elephants

Vindya Amaranayake, The Nation

November 12, 2006

The Wildlife Conervation Department has temporarily halted plans to capture and auction two rogue elephants in the Galgamuwa-Maho area, upon protests by the environmental activists, The Nation learns.

The department was planning to anaesthetise and capture the two elephants, and auction them on the site on November 9 and 10, and sell them to the highest bidders.

The initial advertisement to call for bidders was published in a weekend newspaper dated July 30, 2006. with the reasons for capture and required criteria for bidding.

For the full story from The Nation click here or on the blog title

Monday, October 09, 2006

Wild elephants kill 3 villagers

Wild elephants kill 3 villagers
News 24 October 9, 2006 Colombo

Wild elephants dragged two women and a seven-year-old girl out of their huts and then crushed them to death in a village in eastern Sri Lanka, police said on Monday.

The elephants entered the village of Mohinipuram in Ampara district at dusk on Sunday, charging at residents and creating panic among villagers, local police officer AWA Gafar said. He said the elephants pulled the victims from their homes then killed them.

Wild elephants are increasingly entering villages in search of food as deforestation destroys their natural habitats. Rampaging elephants have killed around 90 people in Sri Lanka since early 2005, and villagers have destroyed more than 150 of the animals by shooting or electrocuting them, according to government figures.

Earlier this year, the government said it would capture destructive elephants and tame them before putting them to work for the conservation department or to promote tourism. A century ago, 10 000 to 15 000 elephants roamed wild in Sri Lanka, but today only about 3 000 remain, largely due to poaching and habitat loss.

http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_2010206,00.html