Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Hambantota's humanelephant conflict exacerbates
Continued failure to issue a gazette placing the proposed Hambantota Managed Elephant Reserve under the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) has exacerbated the human-elephant conflict there.
The reserve is meant to provide a new habitat for the elephant population displaced by largescale development projects in the Hambantota district from 2009 onwards.
About 50,000 hectares were originally earmarked. However, over the years, the area the authorities had originally planned to provide for the elephant reserve dwindled considerably. More and more land was acquired for other projects, leaving the proposed reserve with just 10,000 hectares.
Elephants still roam the zones where projects had either been completed or were still in progress. For example, 1,115 hectares were set aside for the Hambantota Port. About 800 acres had been developed so far and about 20 elephants were living in the areas which had not been developed so far. Environmentalists said the proposed reserve was urgently needed to protect the roughly 450 elephants that live in the Hambantota region. However, successive governments had failed to gazette the proposed reserve, and there were only a few notice boards that advertise its name.