Elephant Corridors in Northwestern Wildlife Region

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CorridorsSriLanka
Finding Possibilities of Re-opening Elephant Corridors in Northwestern Wildlife Region, Sri Lanka

The North Western Province supports nearly 20% of the estimated elephant population of Sri Lanka. This elephant population is scattered in small pockets of habitats as small herds and individuals. Large areas of land have been cleared and extensively planted with crops that are palatable to elephants such as banana and rice. This project will seek strategies for reopening elephant corridors in the northwestern wildlife region, identify the locations of existing elephant corridors and isolated elephant habitats, and identify suitable areas for development that will not block the natural migration routes and does not harm the natural food sources of the elephants.

UPDATED – July 2014

Conservation needs
The conservation of wild elephants in Sri Lanka has become an extremely complicated task, conflicting in socio-economical standards and protection of human lives. Having ascertained the causes for human elephant conflict and solutions to mitigate the conflict, The Elephant Habitats, Elephant Corridors, Habitat fragmentation and The Boundaries of Authorities needed to be identify
and find the possibility’s to reopen and attended immediately, in order to take action over other relevant causes as well.

The North Western Province comprising of two administrative districts, Puttalam (3,013 km2) and Kurunegala (4,813 km2) supports nearly 20% (1189 elephants) of the estimated elephant population of Sri Lanka (DWC, 2011). This elephant population is scattered in small pockets of habitats throughout the NWP as herds and individuals. Highest number of elephant and human deaths were recorded from the North Western region, the most affected area in the county. Location and the number of elephants in two Districts and 14 Divisional Secretariats were identified in conflicted areas of the North West wildlife zone. When analyzing the data of Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) for the past eight years (2005-2012); 226 humans and 556 elephants have died
in this region (DWC 2012).

Large areas of land have been cleared and extensively planted with crops that are palatable for elephants such as Banana and Paddy. The main objective of the research was to Finding possibilities of reopening of elephant corridors in northwestern wildlife region. Identifying the exact locations of existent elephant corridors and isolated elephant habitats and suitable areas for development projects, that does not block the natural trails and also that does not harm the natural food sources of the
elephants. The next concern was promoting cultivation of crops, changing the possibility of the periods and make.

Elephants within the protected area network can be protected, but acknowledges that ensuring longterm survival of elephant population outside the protected area network, though difficult, is critical for their long term survival. While the policy makers are looking at the broader picture and how to make policies that will mitigate this problem, other groups of people and government departments are responsible for wildlife and are trying to solve the problem on the spot, where it actually happens, with the effort of the locals.

1. Objective: To identify the areas with escalating human elephant conflict in the Kurunagala and Puttlam Districts.

Accomplishment of this objective is being evaluated by conflict data from the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) and the office of the Divisional Secretary (DS), GPS data
being collected, and socio-economic surveys being conducted.

2. Objective: To identify isolated forest areas used as refugees by the elephant population

Accomplishment of this objective is being evaluated by data from DWC, and discussions forums with the villagers, and field observations.

3. Objective: To document the activities carried out by both government and non government organizations who are engaged in providing solutions to this problem

Accomplishment of this objective is being evaluated by discussion forums with stakeholders in the Districts and with DWC.

4. Objective: To document how local organizations/communities cope with the problem.

Accomplishments of this objective is being evaluated by discussion forums with stakeholders in the Districts and by socio-economic surveys.

Summary of goals and objectives

Goals:

  • To find possibilities of re opening of elephant corridors
  • To identify isolated elephant habitats in the northwestern wildlife region
  • To identify communities that are highly effected by human elephant conflict, their social interactions with other human beings, and the challenges presented by their livelihoods.

Objectives:

  • To identify the areas with escalating human elephant conflict in the Kurunagala and Puttlam Districts
  • To identify isolated forest areas used as refugees by the elephant population
  • To document the activities carried out by both government and non government organizations who are engaged in providing solutions to this problem
  • To document how local organizations/communities cope with the problem

Describe any changes in goals
No changes in goals.

Actions taken
1. Collected baseline GPS data from 2 Districts that are affected (Kunagala and Puttlam)

  • Identified and mapped existing elephant/jungle corridors
  • Mapped all isolated forest areas
  • Mapped other state forest area boundaries
  • Mapped existing electric fences

Status: Ongoing

2. Conducted the socio‐economic survey

  • Conducted 2 discussion forums with villagers on how the villagers gather information and benefit from different knowledge systems available to them.

Status: Ongoing

3. Organized and conducted knowledge sharing workshop.

  • Conducted 2 discussion forums with stakeholders (1 in Kunagala District and 1 Puttlam District) to develop practical and enhancing methods to deal with this problem.
  • Conducted 1 discussion forum with Department Wildlife Conservation.

Status: Ongoing

4. Project coordination and monitoring

  • All sites were visited by the project coordinator (10 visits)
  • Two assistants were in the village for 3‐5 days to review the project activities and to assess the success of the research methods used.
  • GPS data was reviewed every month by the project coordinator (6 reviews).

Status: Ongoing

5. Project Survey

  • During the survey for this project, we were able to discover illegal elephant trafficking activity that might not otherwise been known to officials or the general public. We have pursued legal action, conducted press conferences, and led awareness campaigns to try to stop the abuse of elephants that are being kept in captivity illegally and to stop the trafficking.

Summary of progress
Activities completed are shown in grey below. The project is at 6 months in the timeline. The socio-economic survey and discussion forums are slightly behind schedule, but we expect to complete these activities as needed with no negative impact to the project overall. One reason for the delay with these activities is the issue of wildlife trafficking.

Conservation outcomes
Due to the result of the program will create and conducting a meetings to pressure the establishing of elephant corridors for the relevant government departments .The cordial relations build during the project period will also be useful even after the completion of the project. The knowledge and the technical knowhow provided for the project period will enhance the main objective and the successful completion of the project and the sustainability of the project for future activities. Publish the results
obtained from the project for the use of policy makers to formulate a sustainable long term land use practice to reduce the conflict between man and elephants with all relevant maps of isolated forest areas, jungle corridors and suitable areas for the electric fences.

List major findings and accomplishments to date
The most vulnerable divisional secretarial divisions listed

  • Polpitigama
  • Galgamuwa
  • Nikaweratiya
  • Rasnayakapura
  • Ahetuwewa
  • Kotawehera
  • Kbeigane
  • Giribawa
  • Abanpola
  • Mahawa
  • Musali

Identified and mapped existing elephant/jungle corridors
Kunagala District: Identified 7 major existing elephant corridors and mapped

Puttlam District:
Identified 3 major existing elephant corridors and mapped. Mapped all isolated forest areas

Kunagala District:
12 isolated habitats are identified and mapped, some of the forest areas under forest department and some under wildlife department , conducting meeting to finalize to identify the relevant authority.

Puttlam District:
5 isolated habitats are identified and mapped. Mapped other state forest area boundaries

Kunagala District:
6 other state forest and 3 proposed reservation boundaries mapped

Puttlam District:
2 other state forest and 1 proposed reservation boundaries mapped Mapped existing electric fences

Kunagala District:
8 existing electric fences mapped including Kalawewa and Kahalla pallakele electric fences.

Puttlam District:
3 existing electric fences mapped including Tabbowa sanctuary and Karuwala gaswewa

2018-04-01T16:50:15+00:00