Wildlife Dept. Probes Leading Environmentalist’s Claim That Organized Group Is Behind Elephant Killings 

Shakila Ifham

November 1, 2023


The Department of Wildlife Conservation yesterday said investigations have commenced on a statement made by a leading environmentalist claiming that there is an organised group behind elephant killings lately.

Chairman of Surakimu Sri Lanka Association, Ven. Pahiyangala Anadasagara Thera last week said that some 400 elephants had died by 25 October this year.

He added: “An organised group is behind these elephant deaths.” The Thera said the organised group was backed by some senior politicians and public officials.

However, a senior official of the Department yesterday said by yesterday 399 elephants have died and 159 humans have perished due to elephant attacks. Last year (2022) 439 elephants were killed while 146 human deaths were reported.

The veterinarians of the Department had attended to 298 elephants countrywide this year. Most of the cases were very successful.

Gun shots accounted for 74 deaths, illegal electrification on fences 57, hakka patas (IEDs) 39 and train accidents 19.

The Department stressed that political interference is their biggest stumbling block to protecting the elephants.

“Despite having 5100 kms of electric fences countywide, including this year’s 771 kms, some villagers remove and rob batteries and other accessories of the fences, this is a growing problem. We are finding it difficult to control. Villagers too should contribute to minimise the human-elephant conflict, rather than aggravating it”, the spokesperson added.