By K.G. Karunaratne
The human elephant conflict in the Polonnaruwa wildlife zone has increased in alarming proportions each year much to the anxiety of the Wildlife Conservators and environmentalists.
Wildlife Conservators said 31 wild elephants in the Polonnaruwa Wildlife Zone had died of natural causes or had been killed during the past four months of the year. Assistant Director, Wildlife Conservation, W.D.M.S.Wickremesinghe said five villagers had been killed by wild elephants during the period under review.
He said 76 wild elephants had died, either of natural causes or in the human elephant conflict and 165 villagers had been killed by wild elephants during the previous year. He said the death toll of wild elephants and villagers in the human elephant conflict for the past four months of this year signalled an increase when compared to the previous year.
The official was of the opinion that the illegal clearing of jungles in the district had resulted in the human elephant conflict. He said most of the wild elephants had been killed by laying electric traps, the locally made explosive device called “Hakka Patas” or by shooting. Meanwhile several wild elephants had been run over by trains.
He said a similar situation had been reported from other wildlife zones as well.