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The other side of the most popular zoo animal

When we visit the project sites in Batticaloa District in the Eastern Province, we sometimes encounter a herd of wild elephants on the highway that runs through the woods. All the cars stop and people just watch the elephants from a distance. Like many Japanese people, Sri Lankan people also love elephants and elephant show is one of the favorite attractions in zoos. But such a popular animal can also be a menace to the villagers.


Ms. Sooriyakumari (38 years old), one of the returnees to the Northern Province, told us about some elephants she had encountered in the middle of the night.


That night, several elephants suddenly came to the village and ate from the banana trees planted around the wells repaired by JEN. Elephants can be fierce animals when there is more than one of them. Ms. Sooriyakumari and her children huddled together in fear. Her husband, Kandeepan, went to seek help from the neighbors and managed to chase away the elephants by making loud noises with cooking pans and buckets. But unfortunately, the banana trees were badly damaged.

This is what is happening all over Sri Lanka. When the people clear the jungles to construct houses and grow crops, the elephants who lived on that land escape deeper into the woods. But the papayas and bananas grown by the people are also the elephants’ favorite food, so they often come out to the villages.

 Elephants are losing the habitat because of development but the people need to clear the jungles to live.

 The refugees returning to the villages are struggling to rebuild their lives back together. JEN will support them but we also hope that the elephants and humans can live together in harmony.

January 27, 2011 in Sri Lanka |