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 Post subject: Human elephant conflict: Call for effective habitat
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 2:12 am 
Human elephant conflict: Call for effective habitat protection

By Damitha Hemachandra
DM / 30JUL2005

In a move to control the newly spluttered Human Elephant Conflict in Wayamba and Northwestern regions, nearly 160 elephants are being trailed back to Wilpattu and Thabbowa Wildlife parks by a team of Wildlife Department officials. The Human Elephant Conflict in Galgamuwa, Mahawa, Nikarawetiya, Giribawa, Kotawehera and Kobeigane had increased in the last six months reporting nearly 20 cases of elephant attacks and three deaths by elephants. According to Wildlife Director General Dayananda Kariyawasam, the available forest patches in the areas are not large enough to house the elephant herd and they are better placed in larger wildlife parks like Wilpattu and Thabbowa, which have a land area of more than 1000 kms.

“The water and food availability of the parks are being strengthened to house the extra number of elephants, who were being trailed back to the wildlife parks,” he said Nearly 120 elephants were annually killed each year as crop pests by farmers while 35-50 people were killed by elephants especially in the Wayamba and North Western regions. The Asian Elephants Research Conservation Centre (AERCC) in their study on Human Elephant Conflict has held encroachment of elephant habitat and loss of forest cover as main reason behind Human Elephant Conflict.

Habitat loss of elephants in Sri Lanka had been nearly 70% since the turn of the decade while nearly 80% of the existing elephant habitats in Sri Lanka have some form of human disturbance.

Sri Lanka houses 3500 to 4500 elephants and Asian Elephants have been in the IUCN red list since 1977. The country has dedicated 8000 kms of protected land for the conservation of elephants. Many however are smaller than 100 kms and are not enough to house a herd of 100 to 350 elephants.

The AERCC calls for implementation of effective habitat protection and far sighted plans to bring the human elephant conflict.

 Post subject: Siege by killer elephants
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:33 pm 
Siege by killer elephants
Residents and rangers in dangerous kraal to save Galgamuwa

@ Sunday Times / 07Aug2005
By Dhanuusha Pathirana

It is broad daylight but parents in Galgamuwa are afraid to take their children to the Sunday school as elephants roam the path to the temple.
The intensifying human-elephant conflict in the Galgamuwa area of the Kurunegala district has prompted the Wildlife Department to mount an elephant drive to force the jumbos to move to the Wilpattu and the Thabbowa sanctuaries and confine them there for three months. The project is carried out with Asian Development Bank assistance.

Last week nearly 60 residents and wildlife officers were involved in the kraal where teak roots were being burnt blocking the elephants from coming into the villages. A roadway of five kilometres from the Galgamuwa town up to Mee Oya bridge on the Anuradhapura-Kurunegala road was being patrolled by officers and villagers to keep the elephants from returning.

H. Herath, a 44-year-old farmer in Thoroimailawe, said even after 4.30 in the evening elephants roamed the village in search of food destroying crops and attacking people.

“We must also take the responsibility for this situation as we often clear jungle areas for chena cultivation after the land on which we do chena cultivation becomes infertile. As a result, the elephants are forced out of their habitats where they found sources of water and fodder,” he said adding that he had written to the Galgamuwa Divisional Secretary asking him to address the issue.
A Galgamuwa woman recently died when she was attacked by an elephant while she was at home. In another incident, a 65-year-old woman was killed in broad daylight by an elephant which chased the tractor in which she was travelling.

Villagers believe that from about a month ago, the number of elephants in the areas has increased rapidly. Earlier only two or three elephants were seen but now there are about 60 elephants which terrorise the villages, they say.
“People in Pothanegama, Giribawa, Thambuththa and Warawewa villages live in fear. They are compelled to stay in their homes after seven in the evening,” one villager said.

“The whole herd does not come to the village. Only one or two do. There is a lone rogue elephant that roams at night, killing people,” a villager said.
According to the Galgamuwa Police, the elephants could be from the Wilpattu National Park. When there was drought, elephants came out in search of food and water in pockets of forests around Galgamuwa, the police said.

In an attempt to find a permanent solution to the human-elephant conflict, the Wildlife Department has planned to build five tanks and grow plants in the Wilpattu sanctuary to provide water and food to the elephants after this kraal which began on July 25, Ranger M. M. M. Pahalage said. “This will prevent the elephants from straying into human habitats,” he said.

The elephants are to be barricaded for a month in the sanctuaries until they get accustomed to the new environment. Thereafter no patrolling or kraaling will be done by the department, he said.

However, the tanks are yet to be built and the plants grown in the new environment. The obvious question that follows is: Would the kraal be a waste of time and money if the elephants move back to the villages in search of sustenance? Conservationists point out that trees and tanks must come before the elephants are moved into the sanctuaries.

Another difficulty that the department will face is carrying out the “Tree and tank” project with the elephants around them in the sanctuaries. The kraal has already moved the elephants 10 kilometres from the Galgamuwa jungles towards the Thabbowa sanctuary. The 20 villagers taking part in the kraal are being paid a daily allowance of Rs. 350.

The villagers and wildlife officials in the kraal use thunder flashes and rubber bullets to chase the elephants into the jungles. Then wild life officers patrol the surrounding area till dawn to prevent the elelphants from coming back to the villages. It is a dangerous mission because the elephants in their desperation try to crash through the human ring.

Once the elephants are in the sanctuaries, a 12,000 volt electric fence connected to solar power batteries will be built as a temporary measure.
However, electric fences erected earlier had been destroyed by elephants throwing tree trunks over them. Therefore, the Wildlife Department with the help of the villagers plans to dig a trench on both sides of the electric fence to block the elephants from reaching the fence.

For Galigamuwa’s fear-struck 74,000 men, women and children, the kraal is a positive exercise. But for how long? They have seen several kraals before. Whether the new plan will offer a permanent solution to the human-elephant conflict is yet to be seen.

Seven deaths
Seven people were killed and 35 homes were destroyed by elephants this year, according to Galgamuwa Police. In 2004, five people were killed by elephants in the area.

At present, three people are in the Kurunegala General Hospital after being attacked by an elephant, police said.

Hazardous job
The mission is dangerous but the wildlife officials and villagers taking part in the kraal brave the jumbos’ wrath to do a service to the people living in the area. During the kraal, angry elephants often charge out of their jungle home and attack people.

Ranger Lesley Seneviratne was killed by an elephant before the kraal was started and three Wlidlife Dept. officers were badly wounded during the kraal both by elephants and trap guns set for sambhur, deer and wild boar. Therefore, it is difficult to motivate offices to continue the kraal, Ranger M. M. M. Pahalage said.

 Post subject: Another victim of wild elephant
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2005 1:54 am 
Another victim of wild elephant

Galnawa Corr
The Island / 20Aug2005

A young father of tow children E. M. Bandaranayake of Balaluwava Jayamavatha, in Kalawava was killed by a wild elephant recently.

He was riding on his push cycle at night with a Muslim friend when they encountered an elephant.

They tried to escape creeping under a culvert. The Muslim friend had run away for safely, but Bandaranayake had fallen a victim to this rampaging killer animal.

His wife Sujatha said in evidence at the postmortem held at Galkiriyagama hospital her husband and his friend left home at night disregarding her warning.

 Post subject: Home guard killed by wild elephant at Medawachchiya
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:05 am 
Home guard killed by wild elephant at Medawachchiya

DM / Monday, September 19, 2005

Home guard, H.M. Nimal Jayakody, attached to the Medawachchiya police and who was on duty at Pouhudivula home guard security post has been killed by a wild elephant on Saturday early morning at about 2.00 a.m.

The victim was 41 years old and father of three children.

He was on duty with three other home guards when the wild elephant approached from behind, lifted him with his trunk, carried him for about 30 metres dashed him on the ground and later crushed and killed him.

On hearing the victim shouting, the other two home guards had woken up and run for their lives. They have sustained injuries while running.

Earlier several villagers had been killed by wild elephants said the Medawachchiya assistant divisional secretary Leel Prasanna Madanayake.

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