Sri Lanka’s wild elephant population has shown a marked increase over the last 10 years.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that there were 1,099 elephants in the North Western Province in 1993 and the number has increased to twice as many in 2004.
The minister said, “there are 450 elephants in Udawalawe National Park and there are an estimated 1,500 elephants living outside the Wilpattu National Park as result of terrorist activities that take place in the Park,” he said.
Minister said that steps would be taken to put up Elephant Transit Homes (Ath Asaru Sevana) near Yaan Oya and Thabbowa forest.
The present Elephant Transit Home at Udawalawe will be made an Elephant Conservation Zone, he said. Commenting on the elephant mortality rate in Sri Lanka, Ranawaka said there were 189 elephant deaths in 2007, of them 110 were caused by humans.
Fifty four elephants had reportedly died up to May this year. The highest number of elephant deaths have been reported from the North Central Province, he said.
Chamikara WEERASINGHE writes for DailyNews.lk