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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1995

RAPID ASSESSMENT OF HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICTS AT HANDAPANGALA AREA AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MINIMIZING THEM

D P Munaweera*, V Y Kuruvita**
*Forest Sector Development Division, Battaramulla
**University of Peradeniya

At present, during the dry season (July to September), there are about 120-150 elephants all using the water resources and refuge available in the Handapanagala teak forest. Experience during the last few years indicates that these animals comprise several clans and families forming one large herd during the dry season, which breaks up into original clans and families and travel to other areas in search of food during the rainy season. However, a resident herd of about 30-40 animals remain in the near vicinity of the Handapanagala tank. The incidence of crop raiding is highest during the dry season and involves whatever crops are being cultivated by the villages. There have been a number of incidents where calves have died due to falling into pits or unprotected wells. In some incidents the villages have killed the animals by poisoning.

Objectives of the study include: to suggest remedial measures to reduce the Human/ Elephant conflict; to suggest short term and long term conservation strategies to reduce the conflicts to a minimum.

The methodology includes: data collected on socio-economic and agricultural practices of the farmers; information regarding the elephant movement and conflict; carrying capacity of water holes in Yala blocks III and IV; visual assessment of available foliage in Yala blocks III and IV; examination of migratory paths from Hadapanagala to Yala blocks V and IV.

Short term recommendations include: capture and translocate of a few habitual crop raiders; open a corridor linking Handapangala area and Yala National Park; translocate Neluwagala settlers; provide adequate space for animals; repair and reconstruct of water holes in Yala blocks III and IV.

Long term recommendations include: a study to determine the carrying capacity of Yala blocks III and IV; enrichment of the habitat in Yala blocks III IV and V; establish a research unit in situ to study the migratory patterns; carry out a study to determine the social, economical and environmental viability of Sugar cane plantations.


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Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1999. All rights reserved.