In villages bordering elephant-infested jungles, electrified fences have been put up to prevent elephant infiltration. Unfortunately the scheme has not been successful, as the fences have not been maintained after installation.
The problems facing residents of Gedigaswalana in Sigiriya is a case in point. Villagers complain that though an electric fence was set up two years ago to protect the village from elephants, no electricity has passed through it over the past two years.
Elephants they say, raid the area on a daily basis, creating human-elephant conflict.
The contract to build the electric fence had been undertaken by a former Pradeshiya Sabha member of the area. Villagers allege that the fence had been built without adhering to accepted standards. Some posts had already fallen, they claim. Others have been planted in holes around 6 inches deep!
With the ‘electric fence’ offering no protection, villagers have taken to travel in groups to participate in day-to-day activities.
The people meet at a designated place in the morning and set out together. However, no one dares to step outside after dark.
‘It is like the army moving a convoy during the height of the terrorism problem’, villager Jayasumana Muthubanda remarked.
Villagers claim their pleas for assistance have not been heeded either by wildlife officials nor any other relevant authority.