Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wild Elephants

Brent and I along with the five other volunteers at the conservation center were lucky enough to be invited along with the owner/vice president of the center into a rural village to witness some of the human elephant conflict that takes place in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the village we visited has, like so many others, encroached on the natural habitats of the wild elephants which leaves the elephants either hungry for more food or confused as to why their usual migration path now contains houses. As a result elephants wander into the village and ruin the crops of the local farmers in order to get food and are often shot or injured. Too often, locals are killed by bull elephants who are aggressive, have been previously injured, are frightened or are simply looking for food. Just days before we visited the village a man was killed by an elephant who was frightened of his flashlight. The purpose of visiting the village was to see if we as outsiders could come up with any fresh ideas to combat the issue. Through a translator we chatted to locals about the issues and how they felt about the elephants. It was decided that not only did we need to come up with a way to repel the elephants but a way to educate the people on how elephants can be used as a resource (in terms of tourism, compost and dung paper) rather than be seen as a pest.

After a traditional Sri Lankan lunch we were taken by jeep into the jungle to spot some wild elephants and see them in their natural habitat. We were so lucky and spotted around thirty different elephants including a calf as well as two bull elephants fighting. It was an incredible experience and I found it quite an adrenalin rush considering our new knowledge about how dangerous they could be. At one point our jeep was about 5 meters from an elephant and while I snapped as many pictures my heart was thumping at the though of what this wild beast was capable of.

At the end of the day we were treated to another traditional style Sri Lankan meal cooked by the locals and we discussed a plan of action. The following day we managed to put together a plan based on some research we found on elephant/human conflict in other elephant abundant countries together with the information we gained from our trip. Hopefully something positive will eventuate and the people will learn to live in peace with these magnificent animals.
Safari style!

two bull elephants fighting head to head

A little calf elephant

No comments:

Post a Comment