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From safe homes to the wild

 

ele1.jpg (17730 bytes) ele3.jpg (15582 bytes)
ele4.jpg (20966 bytes) Minister of Environment and National Resources, Rukman Senanayake, Director of Wild Life, Dayananda Kariyawasam and several officials of the Wild Life Department were present to release the elephants into the wild. - Pix by Jude Denzil Pathirajah

More than 42% of the elephant population live in the Wyamba province and it is estimated that 57 % of the deaths are due to gun shot injuries. If timely measures are not taken we would be faced with the threat of the extinction of one of our national assets.

Save the elephant is a motto we often hear. Working towards this is a team of wild life conservationist who have begun a project towards achieving this goal. One such experiment which seems to have a high percentage of success took place the other day.

Elephants are a national asset which should be protected for the benefit of generations to come.

Unfortunately some greedy anti-patriotic elements continue to maim and even kill these beautiful animals for purpose of removing tusks for its market value or sometimes because they are a danger to life and property, especially to their agricultural crops.

The elephant death rate has increased considerably over the last decade, mainly due to human-elephant conflict.

More than 42% of the elephant population live in the Wyamba province and it is estimated that 57 % of the deaths are due to gun shot injuries. If timely measures are not taken we would be faced with the threat of the extinction of one of our national assets.

The male/female ratio in Sri Lanka is 1:3. The elephants need more protected land to live in comparative peace.

We must take effective steps to protect the elephants. It is commendable that an elephant transit home was set up in 1995 as a pilot project by the Department of Wild Life Conservation to care for the abandoned baby elephants till they are able to look after themselves.

At present there are 31 such baby elephants and on two occasions in 1998 and in 2000 nine of them were released to the jungle with the elephants wearing a radio collar that help to monitor them and according to research conducted on them, they have adjusted themselves satisfactorily to their natural habitat.

The second elephant transit home will be set up in the Wasgamuwa National Park soon.

To further help protect the elephants steps are being taken to open up more elephant paths including Lunugamvehera shortly. The sanctuaries will be rounded up with electric fences for their protection.

Recently eight baby jumbos were released from the elephant transit home in Udawalawe National Park jungles.

Minister of Environment and National Resources, Rukman Senanayake, Director of Wild Life, Dayananda Kariyawasam and several officials of the Wild Life Department were present to release the elephants into the wild.

These elephants in the age groups of two to six years have been named Thamali, Mihiri, Hema, Threema, Madara, Padavi and Visendra. They were found abandoned with gun shot injuries in the jungles of Tambalagamuwa, Kebitigollewa, Thanthirimale and Settikulama by the officers of the Wild Life Department a few years ago.

To continue with this humanitarian act more funds are needed. The Wild Life Conservation Department has introduced a patent foster scheme to fund the monthly expenditure which is about Rs. 10,000 for one such elephant Under this scheme, a number of elephant are sponsored. If more wellmeaning individuals volunteer with more money, more elephants can be cared for, and saved from dire straits and unnecceary deaths.


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