Record number of elephant deaths in SL – 361

2020-01-12 at 12:00

Environmental groups say a record number of elephants – 361 – have died in Sri Lanka last year.

Conservationists said it is highest figure of elephant deaths to be reported since Sri Lanka became independent in 1948.

Most are believed to have been killed by people.

There are an estimated 7,500 wild elephants in Sri Lanka. Killing them is illegal, but the animals often come into conflict with rural communities.

Speaking to the BBC Sajeewa Chamikara, an environmentalist from the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform said that some 85% of elephant deaths last year may have been caused by human activity.

He claimed communities had used electric fences, poison and explosives concealed as food to kill the animals.

In September, officials said they suspected seven elephants found dead in a reserve were poisoned by local residents for destroying crops.

Meanwhile BBC World Service South Asia editor Anbarasan Ethirajan said the expansion of villages and farms in Sri Lanka has contributed to dwindling supplies of food and water for the animals.

Officials have pledged to work to resolve the conflict by putting fences between elephant habitats and rural communities.

However Chamikara said the government needed to do more to improve the quality of protected areas, such as tackling the issue of invasive plants which grow over grasslands that feed the elephants.

He said the country’s development plan was not eco-friendly, whilst highlighting the need for a sustainable development plan.

Chamikara also noted that trains are responsible for killing some wild elephants during their migration, while others die of natural causes. – BBC