Cinnamon Natural Trails, in partnership with the TUI Foundation in Germany (under its TUI Wildlife Sri Lanka segment) and the Center for Conservation and Research (CCR), recently launched the ‘Live and Let Live’ elephant and human conflict mitigation programme at Badi Wewa, Habarana. This project is aimed at saving lives on both sides of the fences, thus helping the villagers at Badi Wewa secure their crops and stay safe from wild elephants that freely roam in their neighbourhood.

An extension to Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts existing project, ‘Cinnamon Elephant Project’ which has been running for the past six years under the guidance of Dr. Prithviraj Fernando, Chairman, Trustee and Scientist at CCR in the Minneriya – Kaudulla region, this unique project has already identified over 350 elephants and radio collared two matriarchs with the participation of the Department of Wildlife Conservation. With an extensive amount of data collected by Dr. Fernando and his team on herd movements, they were able to come up with a protective system that is both effective and long-lasting.

This new system developed by Dr. Fernando focuses on erecting fences around the village, keeping the villagers safe, and preventing the elephants from entering in search of harvested crops and causing damage. With the human-elephant conflict escalating in the North Central Province, it has now climbed to a level where it is inflicting over 70 human deaths and 400 elephant deaths annually.

The research collected by Dr. Fernando over the years helps explain why many of the elephants live well outside protected zones, causing them to encroach on villages in search of fodder and nutritious food. With this project, the team hopes to minimise the encroachment and the destruction of crops by 50%, diversify crops and utilise farmland abandoned due to elephant crop raiding.

The versatile paddy field fences are also a novel invention and easy to erect. The farmers are taught how to make these by the CCR and Cinnamon Nature Trails teams, allowing them to sustain themselves unassisted in the future. Erecting these fences can be done ceremoniously by the farmers in the form of a village event, where once the crops are planted, the paddy field fences are set up. These fences stay up until the crop is harvested, and farmers may remove them and re-erect them in line with the next crop season.

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