The Conflict to Coexistence project now has it’s own website with all the information about what they do and how to volunteer.
MEF are in full support of any efforts to mitigate the human elephant conflict (HEC) and regularly make field trips to the area of Habarana to see how the local farmers are doing in their efforts to save their crops from elephants and how the elephants habitat is being affected. Currently 70% of wild elephants are not living in the protected areas of Sri Lanka.
Human-elephant conflicts in Sri Lanka kill 200 elephants and 48 people in 2011 -Sri Lanka Department of Forest Conservation
Habarana is located on the edge of 3 national parks in Sri Lanka, this means that the village is right in the middle of the ‘elephant corridor’ the migration route of elephants. Wild elephants pass through the village from the jungles in search of food, naturally they eat the farmers crops, sometimes even breaking into houses to do so, causing much damage to property, crops and land. This angers and upsets the farmers who then attack the elephants, often an elephant is shot at despite it being illegal to kill an elephant in Sri Lanka.
Our main goal is to protect the elephants left in the jungle but to do this we need to find ways of working with the people and educate them about the solutions available.
We have provided farmers in the area with bells and they have built small tree houses which are manned every night, if an elephant is spotted wandering into the area they ring the bells and shine their torches to make noise which scares the elephant away.
Read the Human Elephant Conflict Diaries here!
We have also suggested that they plant some crops that the elephants do not like such as spicy Chillies and spiky oranges around the borders of their property- all can still be used to generate income!
We are designing and creating a mini Human Elephant Conflict Farm that visitors and volunteers of MEF can walk round to highlight the various projects that we are working on outside of MEF and the methods used to mitigate HEC.
Experiments in our Eco farm so far have also proved a success- the elephants here show no interest in the tasty crops as we use their dung as compost! Understandably the elephants are not interested in grazing around poop though they will eat the picked produce. Using elephant dung in this way has the benefits of being both an excellent fertiliser and a deterrent for the elephants.
The final solution that we have experimented with and has since been proved to work in Africa is bees! Elephants do not like bee’s as they can get up their trunks and so do not go near them. If we provide bee boxes to the villagers this should keep the elephants away from their land and encourage them to stay in the protected areas, the farmers can also earn extra income from the honey! Its an eco-friendly, natural solution leading to happy farmers and more importantly happy elephants!
Here are some interesting links about HEC in Sri Lanka and various solutions!