Wild elephant menace in Moneragala Over 300 families leave area

The wild elephant menace has affected the Moneragala district very badly. The cultivation of sugar-cane had created the wild elephant problem. With the clearing of some 50,000 acres for sugercane, forest cover was depleted and water-ways blocked. There emerged a food crisis for animals. This is the origin of this issue.

Officers that had turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the felling of trees for ecconmic gain, are seen to be as if they are deaf and dumb without giving a solution to the problem they themselves created.

When the lands traversed by elephants are given on a platter for sugar-cane cultivation, what else can the wild animals do except eat cultivated plantains, jack and coconut?

It is not incorrect to say that by now every agrarian settlement within the Moneragala district is confronted with the wild elephant menace. However the department established for wild life too has failed to solve the elephant problem.

At the last Wellawaya Pradeshiya Sabha meeting Vice Chairman of the PS Mr. R. D. Haramanis (UPFA) stated that though an organisation by the name of "Gajamithuro" had got a lot of money, they have not done anything to alleviate the human-elephant clash. He described it as an organisation that misled the farmers.

The farmers have realised that elephant fences, drains, and moats are fraudulent schemes wasting money.

Last week when we toured Wandama in Wellawaya PS Division area, farmers told us that of about 400 farmer families, there were now only about 100 families left. All the other families have left due to this problem.

K. K. Kamal said about elephant issue of Wandama. "Now the elephant issue is getting aggravated day by day. Elephants coming from beyond Kirindiganga, roam in the entire area. We have formed an organisation of those who have suffered at the hands of elephants. We have forwarded our grievances to the government".

"But no solutions have been forthcoming. In those days, coconut and banana were extensively grown in Wandama, Demataliya and other areas. Today, people have got used to cultivating vegetables like brinjals.

A large number of people have abandoned the village and it will be extremely difficult to live in Wandama in the future".

The time has come for the authorities to view the lower Uva wild elephant issue from a new angle.

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