Human Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka - A Brief Introduction

    Humans have been invading wildlife habitats to keep up with his land requirements and more land is required everyday to serve the increase in population. This scenario is primarily the root cause for the aggravation of Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) in Sri Lanka. The 1.2 million hectares of protected areas are only theoretically enough to accommodate 1200 elephants however, Sri Lanka consists of about 6000 elephants which contribute to 10% of world population and more than 70% of such elephants reside outside protected areas. These elephants engage in activities that cause conflict between both humans and elephants.

    As elephants in due course are losing ground to the human tide, access to their critical resources are blocked by human habitations and fences. Being chased away by humans during day time, the elephants have now evolved to be nocturnal and secretive. It has come to a point that elephants seek food during night and attack humans at the sound of their voice. Typically, the Sri Lankan elephant hides in the deep forest during day therefore, many attacks occur at night. As per these attacks by elephants in rural villages and also terrified by such statistics, people who live in such areas refrain from walking outside during dusk and afterwards. This has directly affected their quality of life.

    According to a study done by the Department of Wildlife and Conservation (DWLC), it was found that 65% of Sri Lankan elephant population has fallen since the turn of 19th Century. Figures below further discuss statistics of the Human Elephant Conflict from 2007- 2011. These statistics are by the courtesy of the DWLC, Sri Lanka.

Jathun Gamage Isuru Amalinda

Research Assistant

Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Research Centre,
Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology,