The results of the recent island wide elephant census revealed that there are 5879 elephants in the country which is the highest density of wild elephants in the Asian continent, Minister of Agrarian Services and Wildlife S. M Chandrasena said today.
According to the census there are 1107 baby elephants and 122 are tuskers. The island wide elephant survey was conducted dividing the country into seven parts, Wildlife Department Director General H. D. Ratnayake said. The statistics showed that the highest number of elephants are concentrated in the Mahaweli region where 1751 elephants were recorded. The lowest number of elephants is in the Central region where 47 elephants were found. There are 1573 elephants in the Eastern region, 1189 in the North Eastern region and 1086 in the Southern region.
The Minister said the large number of baby elephants was a further sign of an increasing elephant population in the country. Ratnayake said the census was to find remedies to stop the human-elephant conflict, to ensure their protection and to seek new methods to manage them.
The census was conducted in 1553 observation points with the participation of 3500 officers from the Wildlife Department, Army and residents in the areas where the census was conducted and other participants. The islandwide elephant census was conducted from August 11 to 14. The last elephant census was in 1993 which did not cover the North and Eastern provinces.
He said although environmental groups have stated that the purpose of the elephant census was to hand-pick some 300 elephants for domestication and that they would be sold to temples, the minister said that would not be permitted.” We will only permit lone elephants that are found stranded or selected elephants in the Pinnawala orphanage to be given to temples. No other elephants will be allowed to be domesticated,” he said. (Olindhi Jayasundere)