Sunday, 15 January 2012

Human-elephant conflict escalates in Sri Lanka

Call for a long-term focus - not electric fences
January 2012: Plans to translocate elephants in Sri Lanka have been scrapped - to the delight of the Sri Lanka Conservation Society (SLCS). However, the charity remains concerned about how the country's elephant population is to be managed amid intensifying human-elephnt conflict on the island.
President Ravi Corea said: ‘There seems to be no definite plans as to how the current populations of elephants in Sri Lanka will be managed over the long term.
‘According to reports it seems the only solution that is still advocated by the Department of Wildlife to address the intensifying human-elephant conflict island-wide is to erect hundreds of kilometers of electric fencing.
Fences can stop elephants reaching vital resources
‘With the country on a development drive it becomes vitally important that we address issues such as human-elephant conflict and elephant conservation with a long-term focus, goals and objectives in mind.'
The SLCS argues that palliative efforts, such electric fences, are not a long-term solution especially if they are used to fence elephants in areas.
‘While electric fences can be effective there are limitations to their application and they are also hampered with issues in regard to their maintenance, operations and effectiveness,' said Ravi. ‘If an electric fence is not properly maintained it quickly becomes unoperational. Most importantly, if an electric fence is not properly planned and erected it could unnecessarily obstruct elephants from accessing vital resources.'
70 per cent of Sri Lanka's wild elephants are not in protected areasHuman-elephant conflict has transcended from just being a wildlife management problem to one of the worst environmental and rural social economic crises in Sri Lanka's Dry Zone. Seventy per cent of the island's wild elephant population live outside the Wildlife Protected Area network and so share land with rural people.
‘Unregularised land tenure has fragmented vast tracts of forests making it a nightmare to address environmental and socio-economic issues and concerns such as human-elephant conflict, poverty alleviation and rural youth unemployment,' said Ravi. ‘The Northwestern Province is a prime example.
'The elephants live in fragmented forests amidst a sea of humanity. Unfortunately, today many other areas are also quickly moving towards a similar situation.

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