Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department on Tuesday said that till September this year, 293 elephants and 96 people had been killed in the longstanding human-elephant conflict in the country.
The Director-General, Department of Wildlife Conservation, M. Sooriyabandara, said this on Tuesday in Colombo.
Mr Sooriyabandara said the Department, in collaboration with the government, was attempting to minimise the human-elephant conflict by putting up fences around elephant habitats to prevent them from entering human habitat.
He said several other measures were also underway to minimise the number of deaths, which had reached a very high number, so far this year.
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“Strict legal action will be taken against anyone, who is caught entering elephant habitats with an aim of harming the elephants.
“Department officials are continuously monitoring the situation,’’ Sooriyabandara said.
He said killing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is an offence punishable by death but there have been regular reports of angry villagers poisoning or shooting them.
Last week, seven elephants were found dead in the Habarana Forest Reserve, in a suspected case of poisoning, the department said, prompting the government to launch an extensive probe.
The dead elephants included one pregnant elephant.
Mr Sooriyabandara said further investigations were being carried out to ascertain the exact cause of deaths.
Official records show the population of wild elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated at 7,500.