EFFECTIVENESS OF ELECTRIC FENCING IN SRI LANKA IN MITIGATION OF HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICT: THE ROLE OF SOCIAL ASPECTS

P.K. PREMARATHNE, L.H.P. GUNARATNE

Abstract


Human elephant conflict (HEC) has become a major environmental issue in Sri Lanka, which is at an escalating trend with more elephant and human deaths, property damages, and many recoverable and unrecoverable losses. Fragmentation and loss of natural habitats, disturbances of migratory routes due to increasing human settlements are the prominent reasons for the conflict. With a view of mitigating the HEC, a number traditional as well as introduced measure has been adopted by communities and Department of Wildlife Conservation. Among the various abatement strategies, electric fences appear to be the most preferred.

Against this background, the study on the five electric fences namely, Kandaketiya, Kalagama, Herathgama, Mahaweli System G and Lunugamvehera was carried out with the objective of finding out the effectiveness of electric fences in Sri Lanka. The data were collected from 238 respondents and officers in DWLC regional offices. The study revealed that proper maintenance of the electric fences is the key factor for their effectiveness. The level of community participation for maintaining of the electric fences and acceptance levels of the fences is depicted through their attitudes and perceptions. Further, involvements of community based organizations (CBOs) were crucial in establishment and maintenance. Social factor appear to more important than technical factors. The study makes suggestions based on findings for improved level of community participation and acceptance for effective fencing.

The study targets to evaluate the role of social factors to increase the effectiveness of electric fencing in Sri Lanka. The specific objectives are; to investigate the social acceptance and perception of mitigation measures of the conflict and to identify the needed measures to improve the social acceptance and community support on electric fencing.


References


De Silva, M. (1998) Status and Conservation of the Elephant (Elephas maximus) and the Alleviation of Man-Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka. Gujah, 19.

IUCN, Maps Electric Fencing. (2000) IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, online reference at www.iucn.org.

Kemf, E. and Santiapillai, C. (2000) Asian Elephants in the wild: 2000- WWF Species Status Report. WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature, Gland, Switzerland.

Santiapillai, C. (1997) Elephant conservation in Sri Lanka. The Island. (Sri Lanka) August. 24.1997


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