Elephant survey on the cards next year

A survey on elephants in Sri Lanka is due in the year 2018, Wildlife and Conservation Department Director General G.C. Sooriyabandara yesterday said. Speaking to the Daily News, Sooriyabandara further said the survey will be conducted in the dry season which falls during the months of August-September as a water hole count.

“The objective of the survey is to identify the elephant habitats and their numbers,” Sooriyabandara also said. “The survey will also be helpful to collect data that will be imperative when launching development projects in the country and in mitigating Human-elephant conflict as well,” he pointed out.

DWC Deputy Director Ranjan Marasinghe told the Daily News that the need for a survey on elephants is high considering the recent interests expressed by the public and other groups on elephant conservation.

Marasinghe also said that the DWC will be inviting all scientists, activist groups and foreign resource persons to contribute to this survey as there was much debate over the Elephant Census conducted by the Wildlife Department in 2011.

“There were and there are several conflicting ideas when it comes to a data base on elephants. Some groups say that such a data base is necessary and important, when some groups say that such data collection is unnecessary, pointing out that keeping such records on these animals will cause them less good and more harm.

With all these conflicting ideas, we want all their inputs to make this study a success.” Marasinghe pointed out.

Marasinghe also said that there were several hindrances such as trade union actions and conflicting ideas on surveying, which delayed the elephant survey in 2017.

He also said the DWC plans to collect data on elephants at this survey by using several direct, indirect and scientific techniques rather than from just a single method. Marasinghe also said it is important to negate the political involvements and various agendas that have a harmful impact on the matters relating to elephant conservation.

Director of Wildlife Health at the Department of Wildlife Conservation Dr. Tharaka Prasad told the Daily News that the number of elephant deaths in year 2017 is approximately between 250-270.

He said the reasons for these deaths include both natural causes and other reasons such as the Human-Elephant conflict. 

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