Shock treatment for farmers and jumbos at Wilpattu border

Story and pics by Karuwalagaswewa Jayaratna Wickramarachchi

Farmers living on the border of the Wilpattu National Park have expressed fears for their future livelihoods, with the authorities planning to erect an electrified fence stretching some 95 kilometres on the eastern side of the sanctuary.

The authorities claim that the fence was important to prevent wild elephants from entering the villages and also to prevent farmers from encroaching into the park.

However D. M. Senaviratne, a spokesperson for the farmers said that more and more people were giving up paddy cultivation owing to the costs involved and were instead opting for the farming of cash crops, which they claim is less expensive and more lucrative in profits.

The electrified fence will run through the villages of Tanthirimalai, Maha Vilachchi, Kandurupitiya, Elapathgama, Ittikulama, Kukulkatuwa, Kudaweva, Ehetuwagama, Hunuvilagama, Munasinghagama, Holabelayagama, Pimburellagama, Katupothweva, Kabaragoyawewa and Kirmetiyawa.
A road 20 feet wide will also run alongside this fence, officials said.

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