Elephants can have profound effects on the structure and composition on woodlands. In this study, the damage caused by elephants to woody plants in the Udawalawe National Park was investigated.The study was carried out in three major habitat types in the Udawalawe National Park, namely grasslands, scrub forestsand tall forests.Five plots were established in each habitat. Types of damages caused to the woody plants were categorized in to six main groups viz, crown damage, bark removal, branch damage, pushing down, partially damaged and totally damaged. Plant species which were highly vulnerable for elephant damages and the areas in which elephant damages are high were identified.These results were used to identify the food preferences of elephants, highly recorded damage types and the area which they prefer to stay.
Based on the intensity of damages the study revealed that, crown damages, branch damages, pushing down and bark removal as highly recorded damage categories in the three habitats. Bauhiniarecemosa, Phyllanthuspolyphyllus, Limoniaacidissimaand Diospyrosovalifolia were the species that were more susceptible for elephant damages and the grassland habitats were the areas where elephant damages were high.

Full Text:



Barnes, R.F.W. (1985). Woodland changes in Ruaha National Park (Tanzania) between 1976 and 1982. African Journal of Ecology 23:215–222.

Belsky, A.J. (1984). Role of small browsing mammals in preventing woodland regeneration in the Serengeti National Park Tanzania. Afr. J. Ecol. 22(4): 271–280.

Department of Wildlife Conservation. (2010). Performance report 2010. Jayanthipura, Baththaramulla. 1-72

Silva, S.D., D.G. Ashoka, Ranjeewa & D. Weerakoon (2011). Demography of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus ) at Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka based on identified individuals. Biological Conservation 144: 1742–1752.

Ishwaran, N. (1983) Elephant and Woody-Plant Relationships in Gal Oya, Sri Lanka. Biological Conservation 26:271-285.

Kumar, M. A., D. Mudappa & R.T.R. Shankar (2010). Asian elephant Elephas maximus habitat use and ranging in fragmented rainforest and plantations in the Anamalai Hills, India. Tropical Conservation Science. 3 (2):143-158.

Laws, R.M. (1970). Elephants as agents of habitat and landscape change in East Africa. Oikos 21:1-15

Laws, R.M., I.S.C. Parker & R.C.B. Johnstone (1975). Elephants and their habitats, the ecology of elephants in North Bunyoro, Uganda. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 376pp.

McNaughton, S.J., R.W. Ruess & S.W. Seagle (1988). Large mammals and process dynamics in African ecosystems-herbivory mammals affect primary productivity and regulate recycling balances. BioScience. 38(11): 794-800.

Osborn, F.V. (2002). Elephant-induced change in woody vegetation and its impact on elephant movements out of a protected area in Zimbabwe. Pachyderm 33: 50-57.

Pellew, R.A.P. (1983). The impacts of elephant, giraffe and fire upon the Acacia tortilis woodlands of the Serengeti. Afr. J. Ecol. 21: 41–74.

Santhiapillai, C. & P. CJackson (1990). The Asian Elephant, an action plan for its conservation. IUCN/SSO, Asian Elephant speacialist group, IUCN, Switzerland.

Santiapillai. C, S. Wijeyamohan, C. Wijesundara & R. Vandercone (2003). Population Structure, Composition and Abundance of Elephants Elephas maximums in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka

Journal ,Bombay Natural History Society 100(2),(3):308-321.

Struhsaker, T. T., J.S. Lwanga & J.M. Kasenene (1996). Elephants, selective logging and forest regeneration in the Kibale forest, Uganda. Journal of Tropical Ecology 12: 45-64.

Sukumar, R. (2006). A brief review of the status, distribution and biology of wild Asian elephants Elephas maximus. Int. Zoo. Yb. 18: 1-8.

Ricardo M. H. (2003). Woody plant damage by African elephants in relation to leaf nutrients in western Zimbabwe. Journal of Tropical Ecology 19:189-196.

Thomson, P. J. (1975). The role of elephants, fire and other agents in the decline of Brachistegia boelumii woodland. Journal of the South African Wildlife Management Association. 51: 11-18.

Vancuylenberg, B.W.B. (1977). Feeding Behavior of the Asiatic elephant in southeast Sri Lanka in relation to conservation. Biologcal Conservation. 33-52.

Vijver, V.D., C. A. D. M. Foley, C. A. & H. Olff (1999). Changes in the woody component of an East African savanna during 25 years. J. Trop. Ecol.15: 545–564.

Wing, L. D & I.O. Buss (1970). Elephants and forests. Wildlife monographs 19: 92pp.