Environment

Tusker ‘Rewatha’, 50, electrocuted near farmland in Sri Lanka

Colombo, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- A nearly 50-year-old elephant, known as “Rewatha,” has died after coming into contact with a live electric fence set up illegally to prevent wild animals from walking into farmland in Sri Lanka, officials said on Wednesday.

“Rewatha,” one of the oldest elephants on the island nation, was found dead on Tuesday, the officials said.

The authorities are mulling legal action against the owner of the farmland where Rewatha died.

Elephants have a high level of sanctuary protection in Sri Lanka.

However, according to statistics by the wildlife department, 322 elephants and 112 people died last year due to the so-called decades-long man-animal conflict in Sri Lanka.

Wildlife conservationists blame increased deforestation in the country for aggravating the problem.

Conservationist Rukshan Jayewardene told EFE that “Rewatha’s” death was the latest in a long list of elephants that died over the past few years.

“Hopefully at some point this will end because these deaths are preventable,” he said, adding Sri Lanka had failed to place great value for elephants.

“I hope that there is some change in the thinking of what happens to elephants. Rewatha is not known to be a crop raider or make any issues to humans,” he added.

The Sri Lankan government, among many initiatives, has set up electric fencing around protected areas including national parks and sanctuaries.

But Jayewardene said it was not a solution as most wild elephants live outside those protected areas.

“The government is spending over Rs. 200 million annually on this issue alone,” Wildlife department spokesperson Hasini Sarachchandra told EFE.

She said it was collective work. “Everyone including the public and politicians should work together to solve this issue. The department alone cannot do much.” EFE-EPA

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