Elephant Killings This Year Likely To Overtake Figures For 2022

Shakila Ifham

September 29, 2023


At least 335 elephants have been killed up to yesterday (September 25) so far this year, while 142 human deaths were recorded during the same period due to elephant attacks, the Department of Wildlife Conservation said.

A senior official of the Department of Wildlife Conservation said that despite their initiatives to safeguard the pachyderms fighting for their ever decreasing turf due to land grabbing for agricultural purposes. “We fear at the rate of killings, it would exceed last year’s death toll of 439 elephants,” the official added.

Nearly 63 elephants have died due to gunshot injuries, 39 due to electrocution, 32 due to hakka patas, 10 due to train accidents, and road and other accidents 16 deaths.

The north central district of Anuradhapura has seen the highest number of elephant deaths during the period with the death of 29 elephants followed by district of Hambantota with 29 and Polonnaruwa 26.There has seen an increase in the human-elephant conflict with the extent of elephants’ habitats declining due to expansion of commercial construction and farming, a Ministry official said.

Sri Lanka’s Asian elephants have been listed as endangered as its habitat has been greatly reduced, especially after the expansion of rice cultivation in the early 1980s under several irrigation schemes led by the accelerated Mahaweli river valley development program in the north central and the eastern region of the country.

A census in 2011 counted 5,879 elephants, or roughly 6,000. A new elephant census was planned for this year.

Meanwhile, Wildlife authorities also said that they nabbed four persons who had killed four sambhurs and a mouse deer for meat in the Rantambe sanctuary. The four carcasses of sambhur weighed 304 kilos and the mouse deer 1.5 kilos.

Three shotgun cartridges and an electric torch in possession of the poachers were also taken into custody. They were to be produced before the Walapane magistrate. Poaching wild animals for bush meat is rampant in some areas.