Sri Lanka Seeks Lasting Solution as Human Elephant Conflict Takes Record Toll

Each day, as the sun set over the horizon, Thettuwage Tennakoon and his wife would carefully climb up into their treehouse in the middle of their rice field. This elevated position was ideal for keeping watch over the crop — and for staying safe from the elephants they were guarding the crop against.

But in the middle of one night late last December, a lone elephant entered Tennakoon’s rice field and attacked the treehouse, bringing it down. The elephant then attacked the couple, and despite doctors’ attempts to save their lives, the pair died of their injuries on Christmas Eve. They left behind two children who will receive 2 million rupees ($5,500) in compensation from the government — a sum unlikely to make up for the loss of their parents, or ward off the continuing threat of marauding elephants.

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