Plan in two weeks to resolve human-elephant conflict

Dr Sumith Pilapitiya, a member of the three member committee appointed by the President to find a stable solution to protect crops and agricultural based livelihoods from threats posed by wild elephants, told stakeholders who made suggestions to the committee on Wednesday (30) that the action plan will be presented to the President in the next two weeks.

The Committee comprises Wildlife and Forest Conservation Ministry Additional Secretary Wernon Perera, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya and Centre for Conservation and Research Chairman (CCR).Dr. Pruthuviraj Fernando

One hundred twenty two human lives lost and 407 elephants were killed in 2019 and 62 humans and 200 elephants were killef in the first eight months of this year in the conflict.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed officials to devise a sustainable solution to human-elephant conflict within two years.

Pilapitiya said that the Wildlife Department has an impossible task of protecting 1.2 million hectares (nearly 66 per cent of the island), which is under its purview. He said that community owned and maintained electric fences were more effective to keep elephants away from cultivations and villages than electric fences maintained by the Government. Hasitha Wijenayake from the Human Society International queried if the action plan by the committee will be in conflict with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tina Jayarathnam suggested that the data on elephant movements be made available online to help other entities plan land at District and Divisional level. Sarath Ganegoda suggested that people living within wildlife sanctuaries be relocated.

Namal Kamalgoda suggested that the Government should take steps to make optimum use of arable land in areas where there are no elephants rather than allocate lands for cultivation in areas where elephants roam.

 

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