Sri Lanka Elephants: Death Toll Reaches Out of Proportion as Human-Elephant Conflict Over Land Intensifies

Elephants in Sri Lanka are engaged in a recurring violent struggle with local inhabitants for lost territory, resulting in casualties from both sides. Amid the shrinking of forests due to the expansion of human settlements, conservationists are asking for co-existence between the large mammals and their Homo sapiens neighbors. Sri Lanka, a country in South Asia, has only a total land area of approximately 25,300 square miles.

In previous years, elephant attacks have been recorded across the island nation where the death toll has reached out of proportion as the human-elephant conflict over land intensifies, according to reports this week. Since killing elephants is illegal in Sri Lanka, the eradication of the tusked wild animals has been considered as not the main solution to the problem. The drive to conserve the animals is also being considered.

Human-Elephant Conflict

Sri Lanka Elephants: Death Toll Reaches Out of Proportion as Human-Elephant Conflict Over Land Intensifies
(Photo : Photo by Nam Anh on Unsplash)

The death toll from the worsening territorial battle between humans and elephants in Sri Lanka has reached “unprecedented threats,” according to reports on Tuesday, March 19. The increasing fatalities came after 176 people died in elephant encounters in the country in 2023. In addition, 470 elephants were also killed on the island last year; this figure is more than double the amount of elephant deaths back in 2010.

Since 2019, 125 people and 370 elephants have been killed annually on average due to the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka. This is according to a research article published in the international journal Biodiversity and Conservation in June 2023, which highlights that the conflict stems from the sharing of land resources driven by the rapid growth of human and elephant populations in the small island country.

Furthermore, deforestation and habitat loss due to land use and other agricultural activities are forcing elephants to be near human population centers. Moreover, the drive of the gentle giants to search for food and water, even in human settlements. In December 2023, a hungry elephant was reported to have charged a tourist van in Sri Lanka in search of food. The incident was also caught on video.

Also Read: Elephant Tramples to Death College Student at Indian Village

Are Elephants Aggressive to Humans?

Aside from seeking natural resources and defending their territory, elephants are also protective of their calf and herds. While they are often considered sociable and intelligent animals, elephant attacks on humans still do occur. According to wildlife experts, an adult elephant may attack a person or a group when it perceives us as a threat. Meanwhile, there are also unprovoked elephant attacks recorded before.

In 2022, an elephant in India crushed the body of a 70-year-old woman during her funeral. It was found that the culprit behind the woman’s death was the same elephant who trampled her until she died. In February 2024, an elephant in Thailand trampled its owner to death. Reports indicate that the animal attacked because she felt her calf was being taken away from her.

Related Article: Elephant Tramples Woman to Death, Comes Back After Few Hours to Crush Body at Her Funeral

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