Colombo, Dec 13 — Sri Lanka has recorded the highest annual elephant deaths and second-highest human deaths in the world due to the human-elephant conflict, the island-nation’s Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) reported.
In discussions held by the COPA recently, it was revealed that Sri Lanka has been ranked second in reporting the highest number of human deaths due to the human-elephant conflict in the world, while India holds the first rank, Xinhua news agency reported.
COPA Chairman Tissa Vitharana said that even though the average number of elephant deaths due to the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka is 272 per year, 407 elephants had died during the past year.
He also said that although the average number of human deaths due to the human-elephant conflict is 85 per year, 122 people had died during the past year.
Vitharana and other members of COPA emphasised the need for the Wildlife Department and other relevant agencies to work together on a more efficient program to resolve the matter.
He said that despite 60 years of efforts to resolve the human-elephant conflict, no significant progress had been made and that a new approach was needed to find a solution.
The committee pointed out that although 4,211 km of elephant fences had been constructed by 2016 to control the human-elephant conflict across the island country, they had become inactive in a short period of time due to improper maintenance.
The committee also said many constructions had to be halted due to protests by the people in some areas who thought that the construction of the fence was a boundary of their land.
Killing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is a criminal offence but there have been regular reports of angry villagers poisoning or shooting them.
Official records show the population of wild elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated at 7,500.