Colombo, Jul 19 (EFE).- At least 238 elephants have been killed in Sri Lanka so far this year, by means of torture, shooting, and electrocution, according to data from the country’s government on Wednesday.
This brings the total number of elephant deaths to 1,787 recorded between Jan.1, 2019 to Jul.14, 2023, according to data released by Wildlife and Forest Conservation Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.
“Most of the time, these elephants are killed after being tortured,” Wanniarachchi said at a press conference.
The island’s elephant population has been declining over the past decade.
Some 439 elephants were killed in 2022, 375 in 2021, 328 in 2020 and 407 in 2019.
Most of the elephants were killed by gunfire or electrocution, mainly in the farming regions of the country where elephants are seen as pests that destroy crops such as rice, corn and vegetables.
The latest data released by the Department of Wildlife and Conservation showed 74 elephants died due to unidentified reasons, while 49 elephants were shot dead and 36 lost their lives because of electrocution.
Sri Lanka has seen an increase in conflict between humans and elephants.
Moreover, elephant habitats have been shrinking due to the expansion of commercial construction and agriculture.
The island nation’s authorities have been using the elephants to promote nature tourism in the country.
However, Sri Lanka has received widespread criticism over the way the pachyderms are treated.
Recently, Sri Lanka’s wildlife authorities came under heavy criticism over ill treatment of an elephant gifted from Thailand two decades ago.
Bangkok decided to fly back the tusker for medical treatment.
There were 5,879 elephants in Sri Lanka, according to a census in 2011.
Sri Lanka has erected electrical fences as a way to manage the human-elephant conflict.
When the British began ruling Sri Lanka in the 19th century, it is believed that there were around 14,000 elephants in the island.
Thousands of these animals were killed to make space for ever-expanding human settlements. EFE