July 09, Colombo: Minister of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Field marshal Sarath Fonseka says that he expects to eliminate the threat of wild elephants across the country by 95 percent within the next 18 months.
He made this observation yesterday speaking at a meeting held at the Naula Divisional Secretariat.
The Minister recently visited the Matale district and remained there for two days to inquire into the destruction to the people's lives and properties by the wild elephants that had come to the villages due to the acquisition of land to construct the Moragahakanda Reservoir and deforestation.
During the visit Minister Fonseka held a meeting at the Naula divisional secretariat with the state officials, wildlife officers and the representatives of the villagers.
Many representatives of the villagers expressed their views on the human-elephant conflict at the meeting.
The Minister noted that last year 280 elephants and 80 persons have died due to the human-elephant conflict and the population of elephants in the country has exceeded 6,000.
Minister Fonseka said that the only solution for the human-elephant conflict is to install highest quality electric fences and that 4500 kilometers of electric fences have already been installed.
He said the Ministry has received funding to erect another 2500 kilometers of electric fences and to hire 5000 people to maintain those fences.
The Minister said the Wildlife Department has around 50 billion rupees and he expects to utilize the money to end the human-elephant conflict within the next year and half.
He said President's approval has been received to provide an appropriate uniform to the wildlife officers and also to provide a firearm similar to a T56 imported from China instead of the firearm they are using now. He said the firearm is for the officer's protection and no for shooting the elephants.