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