Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 13 February 2011





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Solution to human-elephant conflict:

Whither Sri Lanka elephant?

All sorts of illicit firearms such as dynamite and the deadly gal-patas should be totally banned and heavy fines should be imposed on the offenders.

The human-elephant conflict took the lives of over 200 elephants from January to October 31, 2010.

* The highest number of elephants killed 32 was reported from the North Western Province.

* There were 4,000 to 5,000 elephants in the census carried in 2007.

* 200 elephants are killed annually as a result of the ongoing human-elephant conflict.

* 11 elephants were killed with Hakka Patas in the past couple of months.

* Three of them were baby elephants. (Source-Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Chandana Jayasinghe, of the North Western Wildlife Zone)

* Four elephants and a baby died in the recent floods.

* Three mahouts of the Pinnawela orphanage stabbed to death the majestic elephant, Neelagiri who had sired many babies. Neelagiri died a gruesome, painful death at the hands of these 3 fiends when all the time the officials in charge of the orphanage were not concerned. At the age of 23 years. Neelagiri had many many more years to live.

* A large number of elephants has been shot in the belly and trunk. (Source - Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja, Director-General of Department of Wildlife).

All sorts of illicit firearms such as dynamite and the deadly gal-patas should be totally banned and heavy fines should be imposed on the offenders. It is a foregone conclusion that these are procured in the name of protecting their crops and the land they live in but speculation has it that some collectors are involved in the hunt for tusks and animal hide. Most of the chena cultivators are displaced people from the strife-torn areas and may not have a place to live. However, they can be sent back to the places they came from with assistance to start a new life and the rest found land from areas that elephants do not roam.

Farmers must realise that encroaching the areas that elephants lives through the ages, is an infringement of their right to live free which nature and environment provided them. Farmers and villagers have invaded their habitats. Could one expect an elephant to vacate its abode and leave man alone? No, because this animal is used to its abode. The authorities concerned too should look into from this angle and rescue them so that they will live in their herds peacefully. The fault is with the farmer who has created this situation. One cannot reason out with dumb animals when all they know is not to vacate their 'home' which they have been living in down the centuries.

By bringing these areas under cultivation with crops such as sugar-cane, papaya, bananas, manioc, sweet-potatoes and grains, they are tempting the elephants to cross their boundaries. If farmers have vacated and no tempting crops are found, elephants will naturally retreat into deep forests.

Viable solution

The Wildlife Conservation authorities and conservationists and those involved in this conflict must put their heads together, study the problem without running into short-term solutions like erecting power lines that are both dangerous to man and beast.

It is not also economically viable. Trap gun injuries maim the animals for life. The so-called gal-patas kill them. Especially the baby elephants in the most inhuman, and painful way. It is like your own child writhing in agony before death.

Instead of power-lines, separate man from elephant by finding alternative land from elsewhere for cultivation where elephants do not roam.

This could be a long process but a positive one and with time, the elephants will cease to clash and get lost in the wilds.

Even the international organisations on wildlife protection will help us tackle this problem as it is both humane and positive. It is the prime duty of all to stop this wanton killings. As youngsters we never heard of such atrocities being committed against our heritage as the elephant is a part of our great culture.

They occupy a prominent place in our history. Sri Lanka's magnificent elephant is adored, admired and marvelled at sometimes. These animals suffer at the zoo when they are put to do things in the name of entertainment.

Leave the elephant alone the way we saw it in our childhood, so that it will not only save the elephant but man and environment as well.

The Government is striving hard to develop the country in many ways. There are uncultivated areas with rich virgin soil for farming and for chena cultivation such as in Anuradhapura and Wayamba while are not jumbos habitats. This can be done with ease without hurting man and elephant. Hakka Patas and power-lines are not the answer.

Cultural symbol

The elephant which is the cultural symbol of our country has continued to live for over 2,000 years at peace with man. Today, there is a district extinction of the elephant population.

In the name of arresting this trend a few national parks and nature reserves have come to their rescue, some with torture in captivity.

At lease four babies perished and four elephants drowned in the North-Central and Eastern Provinces during the recent past.In Habarana, the carcase of a baby elephant was found on a 15 feet tall tree submerged by the flood waters.

The 23-year-old Neelagiri died of infected wounds allegedly inflicted by its three mahouts with sharp implements at the Pinnawela orphanage.

The Galgamuwa tusker, a majestic elephant and the tallest of the living wild elephants in Sri Lanka died tragically in transit on Nov. 21, 2010 at the hands of careless and irresponsible officers.

A sacred animal in Sri Lanka, the elephant constantly clash with man who has invaded their habitats by force. Around 200 elephants die annually.

The elephant population has dwindled from 12,000 in 1902 to around 4,000 in 2007.



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