People should play an active role in protecting themselves: Wildlife Minister

The elephant problem is something that affects the people and as such, people should take an active role in protecting themselves, said Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife.

In response to questions raised by MP Douglas Devananda in Parliament yesterday, he said, “Elephant Pass is an area where elephants made it their home. Now they bring their young ones to show them how two legged elephants known as humans have invaded their habitats.

In order to protect the villagers in the North from elephant attacks, we have set up a wild life offices and increased the cadre of wildlife officers in those areas. In 2013 in Vavuniya and Kilinochchi, two new wildlife zonal offices were established and the required infrastructure facilities and staff had been provided. In addition, erecting of electrical fences had also been initiated.

However, our policy was not to give these contracts to contractors, politicians or officers. People must participate. Our policy now is that people should put up the electrical fences.”

The Minister said there are remedial measures such as growing plants such as lime along their properties will deter elephants from entering their premises.

“The 75% of the work on the Sudiyanagar electric fence had been completed. Aiyankulama 20 km and 50% of the work had been completed. I ask that the people play a key role and get involved. They should take on the responsibility for their safety.

In Vavuniya district, the Ilavaranthakulam, Paranthan electric fences, 50% has been completed. This is not a problem concerning politicians, but the people and I want the people to play an active role in protecting themselves. More than 28,300 fire crackers used to chase off elephants have already been distributed among the affected villages.

We have proposed for the supplying of fences and post to the farmers to protect their lands but the farmers themselves should construct the fences,” he said.

As far as compensation is concerned, prior to 2015, only 100,000 was paid as compensation he said. “Now we pay one million for the loss of life, Rs. 500,000 for disability due to animal attacks, Rs, 75,000 for injuries caused by wild elephant attacks. The GA is responsible for the submission of reports through the Grama Sevaka. For loss of property, we pay Rs. 100,000,” he said.


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