Lunugamvehera: The creation of a new Elephant graveyard
In 2006, the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) drove approximately 260 elephants into the Lunugamvehera National Park to enable development to take place on the Left Bank of the Walawe River. The drive was allegedly to help reduce Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC).
The overwhelming majority of elephants who are involved in HEC are male elephants, mostly alone or in small groups. Over 95% of the elephants driven into Lunugamvehera were females, juveniles and babies. Sadly, with insufficient fodder, and by concentrating in areas around the electric fences that separated them from their traditional home ranges, most of them died of starvation.
According to a survey conducted by the Center for Conservation and Research (CCR), a few months after the elephant drive, 71% of the farmers in the Walawe Left Bank development area said that HEC was the same or more severe after the drive. So one wonders what the drive achieved.
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