By Chamara Sumanapala
Four wild elephants including a calf were killed by electrocution in the early hours of yesterday (23) in Gonnoruwa, Hambantota. An illegal electric fence has been responsible for this incident. Police spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana told ‘The Nation’ that the caretaker of the land had been arrested and was being questioned by the Wildlife officials. However the land owner has not been arested so far.
Meanwhile, Sajeewa Chamikara of the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) says that the blame for this incident cannot be put only on the people. He pointed out that vast areas of land once used to be habitats of elephants have been taken over and fenced off for development projects. Therefore, the elephant habitats are reduced in size and are also fragmented. The elephant movements have also been affected due to this. Therefore, the elephants are coming to villages and farmlands where they never used to come earlier. As a result, the people have to take any possible measure to protect their lands.
Chamikara added that illegal electric fences were just one method employed by locals to protect their lands from elephant invasions. Poisoning and using Hakka Patas are two other methods being used.
He also added that there was an Elephant Management Area proposed in 2011 encompassing Lunugamwehera, Bundala and Udawalawa national parks. However, contrary to this many lands have been occupied for various development purposes.