Sri Lanka elephants: ‘Record number’ of deaths in 2019

Sri Lanka elephants

A number of 361 elephants have died in Sri Lanka during 2019. It is the highest number of elephant deaths to be reported since Sri Lanka became independent in the year 1948. Environmental groups say, most of the elephants were killed by people.

Elephants are valued in Sri Lanka but some farmers view them as pests. Around 85% of elephant deaths last year may have been caused by human activities. People had used electric fences, poison and explosives covered as food to kill the animals. Killing animals is illegal, but the animals often come into conflict with the people.

There are estimated 7,500 elephants in Sri Lanka. In the month of September seven elephants were found dead in the reserve due to poisoning by local residents for destroying crops. The increase in villages and farms in Sri Lanka has contributed to decreasing supplies of food and water for the animals.

Administrators have assured to work to resolve the conflict by putting fences between elephant habitats and rural communities. Trains are also responsible for killing many wild elephants during their migration. Sajeewa Chamikara, an environmentalist says lots of elephants are kept in captivity to raise income from tourists in Sri Lanka, while others are forced to march at local festivals.