ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has earned the dubious ranking as the country where the largest number of Elephants are killed because of the Human-Elephant conflict, a Parliamentary Committee has heard as evidence of an increase in the intensity of the conflict was presented by experts.
This country is also ranked number two globally where humans have died in conflict with wild Elephants, testimony led before the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) heard according to a statement released by the Parliament’s Office of Communications said.
This information was provided to COPA which had ordered a special audit into the Human-Elephant conflict by renowned Elephant expert Dr Prithviraj Fernando the head of the Centre for Conservation and Research.
The COPA Chair, Prof Tissa Vitharana disclosed that in the past 12 months the number of elephants killed in conflict with humans was 407 as against the previous annual average of 272. The number of people killed also increased from an average of 85 humans to 122 per year
Vitharana reflecting the opinion of the other members of the committee instructed the Wildlife Department and other associated bodies to come up with a plan as whatever has been done over the past sixty years has only served to exacerbate the conflict.
The Chairman also called for report on how the allocation of LKR150 million for the Civil Defense Department to assist with the Human-Elephant conflict has been spent. He ordered the report submitted within 3 weeks.
The electrified Elephant fences were also discussed as many villagers believed that the fences were also marking the village borders. The resistance from these people had to be overcome by discussion and persuasion, the committee said.
The committee members also noted that a large number of Elephants were injured, some fatally, by attacks by humans. Punishments for people against such acts was slow. The committee also noted that although a large number of Elephants were killed by people the records do not reflect that.
The committee session presided by Vitharana also included State Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekara and Lasantha Alagiyawanna as well as MPs Tissa Attanayake, Gunapala Ratansekara, Dr Upul Galappaththi and Prof Ranjith Bandara.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Wildlife were also present.
(Colombo, December 10, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana