The Wildlife Department has to spend Rs. 2,800 million annually to provide free repellents (crackers) to repel wild elephants to safeguard the villages in the vulnerable areas when the beasts invade the farmlands and villages.
The details were revealed by the Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera following a discussion held with the officials of the Ministry when inquired about the allegations made by the people that they do not receive proper support from the wildlife officials to evict the people of the vulnerable villages when elephants attack.
He said elephant repellents required to drive away wild elephants are bought from local fireworks manufacturers and 1.4 million elephant repellents required per year.
Measures taken so far to solve the human-elephant conflict only brought temporary relief, no permanent solutions have been found so far.
The Minister said the main reasons for elephant invasion are the human settlement in the forest lands where the elephants were roaming freely, and the use those lands for cultivation. The other reasons being as the absence of food and drinking water for the wild elephants.
The wildlife department officials who opined that there is a huge need of elephant repellents every year, and a lot of state funds need to be pumped in for that.
Though the villagers often complaint to the wildlife officials when elephants invade, due to the current fuel restrictions, practical difficulties have deterred them visiting the spots on time.
The officials also emphasized that due to the present price hike of raw materials, they may have to spend more than what they currently do on procuring elephant repellents. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)
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