Species Survival and Conflict Resolution

Human-elephant conflict is a key environmental issue in a number of Asian countries including Sri Lanka. People and elephants very often lose their lives in this conflict – approximately 250 elephants and 80 people die in Sri Lanka each year. Farmers in the affected areas lose approximately six percent of their cumulative annual income due to crop destruction. This issue has caused a considerable impact on the rural livelihood economy of Sri Lanka as well as the national economy. Fragmentation and loss of the natural habitat of elephants are considered to be the main causes of human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka. The Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) observes that this conflict is a serious problem particularly in unprotected areas of the northwestern and Mahaweli regions of the country. Several studies have found that poaching has reduced the elephant population by up to 75 percent over the last century. But the increased utilisation of the natural habitats of elephants for agricultural development schemes and the expansion of human settlements into elephant territories also remain major contributors to the reduction in the elephant population.