Sri Lanka farmers to learn to live with wild elephants

Jan 18, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka rural farmers living close to forested areas with wild elephants will be taught to manage human animal conflicts through a new model dairy pilot project, its promoters said. Exetel, an Australian IT firm that runs a call centre in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society are to set up a model dairy farm in Wasgamuwa in central Sri Lanka.

The 300,000 dollar farm will be used to demonstrate good livestock management practices among villages and assist in supply of state veterinary services.

The farm is also expected to reduce human-elephant conflicts in the area, by introducing more compatible agricultural practices.

Agriculture is Sri Lanka’s main rural industry, with most rural farmers surviving on the cultivation of cash crops such as sugar cane, which is also attractive as food to wild elephants.

Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector loses about 10 million dollars a year to crop damages caused by elephants.

Livestock and elephants can co-habit however, Exetel says, and could help ease the conflict, while providing farmers with an income.

“Elephants and agriculture livelihoods based on crops practiced by dry zone farmers are incom