Environmentalists urge stable habitats for elephants

Environmentalists urge stable habitats for elephants

Environmentalists urge stable habitats for elephants

Written by Staff Writer

06 Jun, 2020 | 11:00 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Environmentalists have urged for stable habitats for wild elephants, pointing out that habitats have been depleted due to careless infrastructure projects in the country.

“15,000 acres of lands were cleared to build the commercial city that included the Mattala airport, Hambantota seaport, the stadium and the convention centre,” Sajeeva Chamikara, an environmentalist said.

Gammadda had carried out extensive research together with the Peradeniya university in order to explore solutions to the wild elephant conflict.

The research showed that the human-elephant conflict in Hambantota will not be in a position to be resolved if the remaining forest land is destroyed.

Wild elephants and tuskers which lost their homes due to the malpractices in development activities and the Project of the Improvement in Rural Infrastructure are now encroaching the villages.

Around 26 wild elephants and tuskers have been killed in the recent past, while 13 people have been killed due to the human-elephant conflict.

The Hambantota Wild Elephants Management Reserve was then recommended by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to control this situation.

It is still unclear as to why the Hambantota Wild Elephants Management Reserve has not yet been declared for that purpose.

The main objective of the reserve was to monitor the movement of wild elephants and tuskers and adjoin the Udawalawe, Lunugamwehera and Bundala national parks and to create a combining all forests.

Environmentalists opine that this will safeguard habitats of 450 wild elephants and tuskers.

A plan was drawn by the ‘Gaja Mithuro’ elephant conservation program together with the assistance of state institutions and villagers during the years 2009 and 2011.

It has has been more than 8 years since this report has been to the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

However, even after the effort made to resolve the issue, Hambantota Wild Elephants Management Reserve has only being limited to a few hoardings and elephant fences.

Residents allege that the Mahaweli authority has cleared up the lands belonging to the forest reserve in Hambantota.

Allegations have been levelled that these lands are used for gravel mining, stone quarrying, leasing lands for commercial cultivation and other development activities.

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