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Mon, 27 April 2015 09:14:47
Sri Lanka's begging wild elephants: making it safer for man and animal
06 Nov, 2012 08:28:40
Nov 06, 2012 (LBO) - Feeding of begging wild elephants in Sri Lanka's Udawalawe National Park, can be made safer for both man and animal if it is formalized as a supervised process, where fees are charged, a wildlife enthusiast has suggested.
S M S Senadhipathi, a wildlife enthusiast says though elephants lining up for food along an electrified fence at the national park has become an iconic sight "it is an eye sore and a serious risk to animals and people."

"This is perhaps the only place in the world where people can feed wild elephants," he said

"Taking a leaf from the experience in other countries, Sri Lankan authorities could turn the feeding of wild elephants into a money spinning enterprise while making it safe for both the beasts and animal lovers.

"I suggest that the Wild Life authorities set up elevated structures at a few places along the park border where people can climb and feed wild elephants.

"Guards could be placed to ensure that the food that is offered is free of any plastic or any such material that could be dangerous to the animals."

Elephant are intelligent and congregate along several places on the road where fruit vendors have set up shop.

People in passing vehicles stop buy fruit and feed the elephants.

Wildlife officials especially in weekends try to driven them back into the park with crackers.

Some elephants fade into the nearby shrub and emerge to the roadside as soon as the sound of the wildlife truck fades away, much to the amusement of regular passers-by.

Senathipathy suggests that fees could be charged to get on the platform at elephants from a safe distance and suppliers of fruit could also be allowed to set up stalls for a fee.

Conservationists however do not encourage the feeding of wild animals.

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3. Rahula Nov 07
The Sri Lankan elephants have mostly been penned into ghettos and lost most of the land that they used to migrate across to forage for food in times of drought. The feeding should be managed and allowed to prevent these intelligent creatures from starving and could also be used in areas of heavy human elephant conflict. The farmers who used land formally inhabited by elephants should be made to give up a percentage of their produce to feed wild or semi-wild elephants.
2. feeding frenzy Nov 06
What has tourism got to do with all this, except for the fact that it is 'domestic tourists' who are mostly jeopardising themselves by feeding wild animals?

The suggestion is to prevent plastic covered food being thrown to elephants and domestic tourists as you may call them from putting themselves in danger.

As it is, these tourists who are pictured do not need any 'sake for tourism' to do what they are doing now.

It is like prostitution. Either you have to take action against people who are feeding wild animals or regularize the business in some way to give some protection to the elephants.

Like the prostitutes it is the elephants who are being subjected to crackers now.

Being moralistic is not going to help.

Sri Lanka is a small island. In the past, elephants and man has learned to co-exist, especially in villages where they were used to elephants for generations. It is after the new settlements came that these human elephant conflicts intensified.

There can be several problems with feeding wild animals

It may alter their diet and nutrition, and feeding habits especially if they are young.

Feeding may make them go in search of human foods or raiding cultivations.

That said people have fed wild birds (yes the birds in your garden are 'wild' and protected) for years and they are doing ok.

Of course a fee big enough may discourage feeding also.

1. Sabine Zell Nov 06
There is no reason for people to have to feed wild elephants who already know how to forage and what to eat for themselves. This is very different from a captive elephant situation. Setting up platforms for people to feed these wild elephants can also become very dangerous if the elephant decides to down the platform.

Dealing with a wild elephant can lead to very unpredictable behavior. A wild elephant is completely different from a captive elephant. And in other countries, it has been captive elephants with a mahout or a keeper that are fed by visitors, NOT wild elephants. This does not mean that captive elephants and infant wild elephants should be rounded up for the tourist industry. Please think rationally why these would be very tragic ideas just for the sake of tourism.