ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

A systematic culling programme underway to kill our elephants

By Ashley de Vos

It is well known that most elephant drives in the past have ended up in failure. However, following external or internal advice the Department of Wildlife Conservation continues to indulge in this futile exercise.

The last drive concluded a few months ago has driven a large number of elephants and they are being trapped in the Lunugamvehera Park enclosed by electric fences. More than 150 elephants are now trapped permanently in the park, and this seems to exceed the normal carrying capacity of the park.

The only freedom the elephants have from Lunugamvehera is to move to Yala block 4. But unfortunately, the habitat is unsuitable for elephants. The corridor from Lunugamvehera to the Udawalawe National Park has been systematically blocked by human encroachment and no action has been taken by the department to clear it. Any other access the elephants may have to water has been blocked by recent politically motivated encroachment by cultivators.

Fortunately, the present rain will marginally enhance the food supply, however with the next drought all the elephants that are trapped within the electric fence will starve to death.

We would like to know:

  1. Who advised the drive?
  2. Did anyone carry out a study on the carrying capacity of the park?
  3. Who is responsible for the large number of deaths of elephants due to stress and starvation?
  4. The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) has provision to fine those responsible for killing elephants. A fine of Rs. 250,000 has been specified for each elephant killed. Who will be fined for the Lunugamvehera debacle?

Who is responsible? Is it the Director General of Wildlife Conservation or the consultants or is it political expediency?

It is obvious that what is being carried out is a systematic culling programme to rid certain areas of its elephants. According to the draconian elephant policy dreamed up by some consultants and now faithfully executed by the department, if the elephant becomes extinct from any area, the policy had proposed that those areas could be declassified as no elephant areas. Therefore, if the elephant is systematically eliminated, those areas could be made available for human exploitation and destruction of the environment.

The elephant to this country is a "Sampatha". It is unfortunate that this Buddhist country has forgotten the words of the Arahat Mahinda Thero to King Devanampiyatissa made over two thousand five hundred years ago: “Oh great king, birds of the air and the beasts on the earth have an equal right to live and move about in any part of this land as thou. The land belongs to the people and all other beings and thou art only the guardian of it”.

Our personal greed, our ‘thanhava’ is destroying everything. It will eventually destroy this beautiful country as well.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.