Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) in Sri Lanka has been identified as a wildlife conservation issue by the authorities since the inception of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC). At present it has become one of the serious issues faced both by community and authorities. It is quite clear that HEC has a detrimental impact on Sri Lanka’s elephant population. Present aggravated situation of HEC cause significant damages to communities through human deaths, injuries, crop and property damages. Elephant population has been affected through deaths of elephants and injuries to elephant. DWC pools annual HEC data of which cause of each recorded elephant death, regional distribution of elephant deaths and age and sex categories of elephant deaths are attributes. As an average 59.86 human lives and 151.29 elephant lives are lost annually; seriousness of the situation is depicted by the growing trend of each of these attributes of HEC. Both elephant and human males are heavily affected, which clearly depicted by 78.74% and 67.0% as averages of male human and adult male elephant deaths respectively. Majority of elephant deaths, 62.08% of total recorded since 1990, are due to the deliberate strategies by people to purge the individual animals engaged in conflict with them. Throughout the history of HEC, authorities have adopted multifaceted effort to resolve the situation. This is attributed with the strategies to contain elephants into the Protected Areas (PAs), repelling marauding individuals away from the human habitations, and compensation for damages by elephants, community empowerment activities, strengthening the legal instruments to thwart crimes against elephants, awareness programmes and research for effective mitigation of HEC. However it is clear that people at individual level continue with the deliberate attempts to eliminate troublesome individuals contributing the highest percentage of causes of elephant deaths. Chronological pattern of the change of strategies at individual level coincide with the introduction of new national level strategic approaches. This results in continuous increase of elephant mortality through deliberate elimination attempts and short term sneaky escapes of the criminals against elephants. Elephants, being in a matriarchal society, lose chance of acquiring the experience of adult males and thereby they are relatively inactive in the game with human beings while people at individual level are very active in the game with the authorities. Therefore, the need at the moment is to control encounters between human and elephants. This may be achieved through managing every category of age and sex of a herd or clan in view of manipulating memory effect of herds and managing newcomer adult males to the population. Above all, for a success story, improved habitat for elephants is a must.


KEY WORDS: HEC, Wildlife conservation  , Elephant population, Game theory

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Anon, (2006). National Policy for Conservation and Management of Elephants, Department of Wildlife Conservation and Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Unpublished.

DWC, (2012). Performance Report of the Department of Wildlife Conservation-2011. Department of Wildlife Conservation. Unpublished.


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