Villagers from the area known as the Horombuwa 14th Mile Post in Moneragala continue to charge that the Department of Wildlife is yet to take action to handle the possibility of a wild elephant attack.
Friday, Jan. 15, is reported to be the sixth night that these locals from Horombuwa spend anticipating a wild elephant attack. These locals save themselves by giving up their farmlands and cultivation. Three acres of banana cultivation and 250 coconut trees were destroyed by wild elephants who come from the Horombuwa ‘Degala Araba’ Forest Reserve.
One notable finding from the study of national parks in Sri Lanka is that when domesticated animals such as cattle are moved in to a national park, wild elephants in the park are sluggish to remain there. Wild elephants often do not prefer to eat from big trees but are keen to eat grass. When cattle are moved in to the national parks, grazing grounds are taken by cattle, forcing the wild elephants to resort to alternate food sources. The villagers of the Horombuwa 14th Mile Post are now, facing the consequences of moving cattle in to a forest reserve.
Rs. 9 million has been spent on construction of an elephant fence to prevent elephant attacks. However, an electricity supply is yet to be provided for this fence to function. Although the department attempts to fool the elephants by simply placing the fence, the intelligent creatures surpass this attempt and enter villages and plantations.
According to the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka, “No person shall lead or allow any domestic animal to stray in any National Reserve.” As wildlife officials continue to neglect the complaints filed by these local for the past six days, they turn a blind eye to the many illegal acts that violate the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka.
Deputy Minister of Wildlife, Sumedha G. Jayasena, noted that at present, construction of the entire fence is complete and if there are shortcomings in providing electricity those matters will be addressed. Locals lament that temporary solutions to this issue simply causes more fear among them.