The Sri Lanka Conservation and Research Centre, a reputed N.G.O. headed by famous environmental scientist Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando financed the pilot electric fence project with the fullest cooperation of Marakulama villagers, who so often face the wild elephants threat.
Inaugurating the five km Pilot Electric Fence Construction Project the State Minister Duminda Dissanayake said that the Wild Elephants Conservation and Research Centre invested Rs. 2.5 million for the completion of the new paddy filed and village electric fence, which is going to be a turning point in Anuradhapura District, where the human – elephant conflict(HEC) remains at its climax at present.
“This is a entirely a novel experience for us, who so far have been depending on length electric fence systems proceeding for hundreds of kilometers, sometimes costing millions. I am arranging to provide electricity to the emerging fence through solar panel systems to ensure a full day power supply.”
Once this pilot paddy field and village electric fence is completed and depending on its success, we are going to extend this new electric fence system from the affected village to other villages, which is less expensive and very easy to maintain.
Hereafter, you need not blame or criticize the government or the wildlife conservation official over the HEC issues.
It is your responsibility to look after and maintain the mini electric fence as if it is your own property. I am sure that this test village and paddy field electric fence will protect the villagers, their farmlands and also the elephants are assured freedom and liberty to live outside the fence, the state minister emphasized.
Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando the head of the Conservation and Research Centre, who acted as the chair person of the recently appointed Presidential Committee for submitting proposals and recommendations for the mitigation of HEC said that his institute had a 30 years history in conducting researches and studies on the life style of the elephants and the human-elephant conflict.
We have understood through the long practical experiences that there shall be an alternative strategies rather than the traditional and customary mitigating mechanisms for thwarting the HEC.
The Wildlife Conservation Department has been thriving, attempting and endeavoring for nearly 70 years to limit the wild elephants in to reservation areas in vain.
The elephant driving operations have been instrumental to worsen the conflict. At present there are elephants living in 62% of the country’s total landscape.
Also in 70% of this landscape, the elephants are living with the humans. Our concept is to not to protect the reservation but the village the cultivations properties etc belonging to the inmates.
The only viable option for elephant conservation and the human elephant conflict mitigation is a human-elephant coexistence model with the management of elephants in and outside protected areas was also advocated by the national policy for conservation and management of wild elephants Dr. Prithiviraj commented further.