Sri Lanka has proved to be one of the best wildlife holiday destinations to spot elephants in Asia with the completion recent elephant census. It is discovered that elephant population in the island is more than 5800 animals in the island. The national parks are visited by a large number of tourists and it is an important income generator for the country. The elephant is the most occurring wild animal in most national parks such as Yala, Udawalawe and Wilpattu as such elephant can be described as the most important fauna attraction of Sri Lanka.
At the moment there are more than 15 sanctuaries in Sri Lanka which comes around 10% of the total land area in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a country with a long history with regards to designating safe places for wildlife. The first sanctuary of the island was declared in 2nd century B.C by King Devanampiyatissa. Being a tropical country Sri Lanka has an extremely favourable climate for natural vegetation. Most of the sanctuaries are located in the dry zone forests such as Wilpattu, Yala national park, Udawalawa national park etc.
The only count available was dated back a century when an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 elephants roamed wild in Sri Lanka. But poaching and depletion of forests are largely blamed for the shrinking elephant population in the country and number of wild elephants has been halved by now. According to the wildlife census conducted in 2011 the number of wild elephnats in the island recorded as 5879 making Sri Lanka the country with the highest number of Wild elephant in the world. According to the census, the number of babies recorded as 1107 and number of tuskers recorded as 122.
Elephants were counted as they come to drink from water holes, reservoirs and tanks. The national parks and reserves in the country were closed to the public during the survey. It allowed the officials to conduct the survey without any outside interferences. This survey helped to find out the minimum number of elephants, distribution of the population and the composition of herds, including males, females, babies and tuskers.
The Wild Life Department said the country was divided into seven wildlife zones managed by a wildlife director and the zones covered the national parks, nature reserves, strict natural reserves and sanctuaries in the country.
The highest number of elephant concentration recorded in Mahaweli region in, which is 1751, 47 elephants recorded in the central zone, 1,573 in the Eastern, 1,189 in Wayamba, 1,086 in the South and 223 in the Northern zones.
Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka revealed that elephants were in a good health condition and that Sri Lanka still recorded the highest elephant population in South Asia.
Wild elephant conservation in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a tiny island in Asia, which is one of the popular destinations for wildlife holiday destinations in the world. This tropical island is bestowed with a large number of animal species.
Wildlife authorities of Sri Lanka are planning to establish the first ever wild elephant conservation centre in the island. The move is taken in the wake of increasing number of wild elephant attacks in the country. The conservation centre will mainly focus on the protection of the wild elephants and reduce the number of cases related to wild-elephant attacks.
There are several numbers of incidents recorded every year in the country related to human-elephant conflict incurring losses for both sides. There are several elephant deaths as well as human deaths recorded in the country due to the human-elephant conflict. The government of Sri Lanka has initiated many programs to minimize the damage caused by human-elephant conflict, making electrified fences, elephant insurance program are some of the noteworthy steps. Elephant conservation centre will enable the strong conservation need of the wild elephants.
The Elephant conservation centre will be established in Horowapathana, which is 220 km from the commercial capital (Colombo) of the country. Horowpathana is identified as an area with high wild elephant population, in the elephant census conducted in 2011. It is revealed that Sri Lanka is inhabited by more than 5800 wild elephants making the island with the most number of wild elephants in Asia. The conservation centre will be built at a cost of 185 million rupees.