‘Displaced’ wild elephants evicted from Hambantota Port (Sri Lanka)


Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi, Sunday Times

Date Published

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Officers from the Hambantota Office of Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) launched an operation on Monday evening to evict a herd of wild elephants that had entered the premises of the Hambantota Magampura Port.

The operation lasted from 5.30pm to about 9.00pm and DWC officers were able to chase away some 15 elephants who had made their way into the port.

Officials from the China Harbor Engineering Corporation had told the DWC that about 40 wild elephants were roaming around the port premises and were causing damage to property on a daily basis.

Environmentalists however, point out that the main reason for such incidents is the continued reluctance on the part of officials to declare a separate reserve for wild elephants in the Hambantota region who have become displaced due to the construction of the Magampura Port and the Mattala Airport. They note that the former regime ignored the recommendation to declare an elephant reserve despite it being explicitly stated in the Enviornmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of the two projects. The tragedy is that the present Government is adopting the same approach as the former, they notee. This has resulted in about 350 wild elephants in the region being evicted from their natural habit which has been taken over for development work.