Managed elephant reserve project in Hambantota riddled in delays

Managed elephant reserve project in Hambantota riddled in delays

Managed elephant reserve project in Hambantota riddled in delays

Written by Staff Writer

12 Nov, 2020 | 8:18 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Concerns have been raised over the delays in implementing a Managed Elephant Reserve Project in Hambantota to resolve the longstanding human-elephant conflict in the country.

In 2009, authorities rolled out a plan to create an elephant reserve connecting three national parks in Sri Lanka’s south – a project wildlife conservationists say can protect the habitat of around 450 wild elephants.

However, the forest lands that are to be annexed as part of the project are yet to be officially identified through a gazette.

Forest land spanning hundreds of acres that were allocated for the project have been grazed mercilessly by those with political might, prompting elephants to lose their habitats and storm into villages.

Rampant deforestation in Sri Lanka has reduced Sri Lanka’s forest cover to 29.2 percent, official data show, but some government lawmakers have prioritized development over the elephant management project.

“If we allow most lands to be used for the elephant management reserve, how can we develop the area?” MP Upul Galappaththi, who heads the Hambantota District Coordination Committee said during a meeting recently.

During the meeting, the Hambantota district secretary had pointed out that giving away these lands for development projects will pose problems while managing elephants in the area.

“…we do not know the capacity in which you (MP Galappaththi) would bear responsibility for this. Ultimately, it is my team of officers who will be blamed over this matter,” W.H. Karunaratne, the district secretary noted.

The delay in gazetting forest lands as part of the managed elephant reserve project remains questionable in the minds of the fauna and flora loving public of the country.

People believe that authorities who can stand their ground and take bold decisions are leaders of this country.

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