The Wild Life Department had decided to use the expression ‘Wana Ali’ when referring to wild elephants in Sinhala. This supersedes the former term ‘Wal Ali,’ said Agrarian Services Minister S. M. Chandrasena in Parliament yesterday.
The minister said that a group of journalists had recently pointed out the need to replace the present term as a mark of respect for these animals.
“We have now given due respect to wild elephants. In Sinhala, they will be called Wana Ali not Wal Ali as in the past,” he said.
He observed that there had been a rapid increase in the wild elephant population and that it had risen from 2000 in 1990 to 6000 now.
“Yet we know the forest cover has shrunk. As a result, human-elephant conflicts have been created and harms both,” he said.
He said that three separate areas had been demarcated (in Veheragala, Horuwapotana and Maduru-Oya) to confine elephants in, in order to end human-elephant conflicts.
The minister made these observations in response to a question by UNP MP Sajith Premadasa, who stressed the need to have a national level programme to protect wild animals in general and wild elephants in particular. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)