I was reading an article in today’s UK Observer about the need to cull 750,000 deer in the UK for the delicate balance of the environment between, birds, foliage, and deer and other animals in the wild. There is debate as to the accuracy of the figures and the principles involved, but it will nevertheless begin a dialogue which will come to a satisfactory compromise to suit the environmentalists, the Industry that depends on Stalking deer and other vested interests.
I wish we in Sri Lanka would take the same interest in looking at our Elephant population and making similar determinants. I know there are about 5 Elephant experts in Sri Lanka who are studying all the requirements to determine what the optimum elephant population should be bearing in mind the limited forest lands at their disposal and the vegetation therein to support such a population. We were never privy to the elephant census that was taken, nor a proper review of the measures taken to conserve the population, and what to do with the fallout of elephants being killed, maimed and the resulting human elephant conflict.
There are many ideas but no national policy. As a result there are many inadequacies in the Pinnawela orphanage that have to be solved. There are the midway centers to protect baby elephants who have lost their mothers, I believe both Ritigala and Uda Walawe have them and a host of other conservation efforts, but no national consensus as to which way to proceed to satisfy all stake holders.
I too have a vested interest as I have a home with an elephant fence as a border. So if the fence is not electrified and an elephant gets through, he will make a bee line to the banana plantation and the young coconut plants and destroy all my years of effort in a flash of an hour or two. www.ratmale.blogspot.com
It is in this context that this policy encompasses conservation, culling if necessary, elephant corridors, stopping any more development that encroaches on their territory, complete the plan of electrified fencing, and alternative means of prevention of encroachment, as well as ensuring they are maintained properly, dealing with orphaned elephants, selling elephants to private individuals and or temples and ensuring their care is monitored. Then the steps taken to protect the remaining tuskers, as a national treasure, and studies to see if that population could not be conserved, increased or somehow perpetuated by empowering all villagers of the value of such depleting assets to the nation must be publicized, so that we are all aware of our responsibility in this regard. We must engage a dialogue so all interests are heard and a national policy adhered to if we are to save the species.