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President orders a solution for the Human-Elephant conflict be found in two-years

ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has asked officials to find a solution to the perennial Human-Elephant conflict in two years’ time.

The President held a discussion with a range of officials about the future plans for the State Ministry of   Wildlife Conservation Protection Programmes including Electric Fence and Ditch Construction and Re-Forestation and Wildlife Resources Development held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (27).

He noted that the problem of intrusion of elephants into human settlements in several districts has been discussed for nearly 40 years. Although various solutions have been implemented, the problem remains unresolved.

The President emphasized that finding a quick and durable solution to protect both humans and elephants is a priority.

In a Media release, the Presidential Secretariat noted that in 2019 122 human lives were lost and 407 elephants were killed due to the intrusion of elephants into villages.

That figure for the past 8 months of this year stands at 62 and 200 respectively.  In this context, the threat posed to the cultivation, day-to-day lives of the people as well as to the elephant population is immense, President said.

The Department of Wildlife has 1.2million hectares under its purview.  President pointed out that the responsibility of feeding wild animals also lies with the Department.

The President expressed surprise that the officials in the relevant fields have been incapable of finding a permanent solution to manage or to formulate strategies to solve the long-standing problem.

A committee has been appointed to find a stable solution to protect cultivation lands and agricultural-based livelihoods from threats posed by wild elephants encroaching villages.

The Head of the Presidential Task Force in charge of Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication, Basil Rajapaksa pointed out the importance of rehabilitation of tanks and reservoirs in sanctuaries as well as the significance of growing grass adjacent to sanctuaries.

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It was discussed in detail regarding the need for expansion and conservation of mangrove ecosystems. President Rajapaksa said that regulations should be relaxed enabling the mangrove cultivators to receive more benefits.

The officials pointed out the potential for shrimp farming close to mangrove forests.

In particular, attention was drawn to grant permission for river sand mining under strict control to the people living in those particular areas. (Colombo August 28, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana