IPS and IIED explore the possibility of private insurance to mitigate human-elephant conflict


In Sri Lanka, 80 people are killed by elephants and 230 elephants are killed by people each year, an expert on the human-elephant conflict pointed out recently.

Chief Economist of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), UK, Paul Steele, was speaking at the inception workshop of the Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) project, on Jan. 10 in Colombo. The workshop was organised by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) in collaboration with IIED and Darwin Initiative of UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

IPS Research Fellow, Athula Senaratne, meanwhile, noted that only around 9% of reported elephant deaths are caused by natural causes. Far more deaths are due to man-made causes (shooting, poisoning, etc), resulting from the human-elephant conflict.

"Major cause for human elephant conflict is the competition between human and elephants for space. It is intensified by growth of the rural population, expansion of the agricultural sector, and large-scale development projects," Dr. Senaratne pointed out. He added that around 3 million Sri Lankans – 15% of the population – are exposed to the threat of human elephant conflict.

Elephant attacks are a major risk especially for farmers and agrarian communities, IPS Research Economist, Kanchana Wickramasinghe highlighted. In a survey in Anuradhapura District, 36% of the respondents said that elephant attacks are a risk for them, she said.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement at the Department of Wildlife Conservation, M.S.L.R.P. Marasinghe, highlighted the many interventions that the Department has done to reduce the human-elephant conflict.

The Chief Guest at the event, Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conversation, Chandana Sooriyabandara, said that livelihood insurance can provide a solution for the human-elephant conflict, as well as the clashes between the communities and officials over the human elephant conflict.

The workshop aimed to discuss the role of private insurance in reducing the human-elephant conflict. It presented an overview of the issue, promoted discussion among key stakeholders from government, private sector, and civil society, and launched a three-year project to pilot private insurance for human wildlife in selected Districts of the North Western and North Central Provinces in Sri Lanka.

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