President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed officials to devise a sustainable solution to human-elephant conflict within 2 years’ time.
The problem of intrusion of elephants into human settlements in several districts has been discussed for nearly 40 years. Although various solutions have been implemented, the problem remains unresolved. President emphasized that finding a quick and durable solution to protect both humans and elephants is a priority.
President made these remarks during a meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Wildlife Conservation Protection Programmes including Electric Fence and Ditch Construction and Re-Forestation and Wildlife Resources Development held at the Presidential Secretariat today (27).
In 2019 122 human lives were lost and 407 elephants were killed due to the intrusion of elephants into villages. That figure for the past 8 months of this year stands at 62 and 200 respectively. In this context, the threat posed to the cultivation, day-to-day lives of the people as well as to the elephant population is immense, President said.
The Department of Wildlife has 1.2million hectares under its purview. President pointed out that the responsibility of feeding wild animals also lies with the Department.
The President expressed surprise at the fact of incapability of officials in the relevant fields to find a permanent solution to manage or to formulate strategies to the long-standing problem.
A committee has been appointed to find a stable solution to protect cultivation lands and agricultural based livelihoods from threats posed by wild elephants encroaching villages.
The Head of the Presidential Task Force in charge of Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication, Basil Rajapaksa pointed out the importance of rehabilitation of tanks and reservoirs in sanctuaries as well as the significance of growing grass adjacent to sanctuaries.
It was discussed in detail regarding the need for expansion and conservation of mangrove ecosystems. President Rajapaksa said that regulations should be relaxed enabling the mangrove cultivators to receive more benefits.
The officials pointed out the potential for shrimp farming close to mangrove forests.
In particular attention was drawn to grant permission for river sand mining under strict control to the people living in those particular areas.
President Rajapaksa said that officials should ensure continuous implementation of the projects that are formulated on the basis of public enthusiasm even when they are out of the public attention.
Minister C.B. Ratnayake, Minister of State Wimalaweera Dissanayake, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera and Secretaries and officials representing the Cabinet and State Ministries were also present at the discussion