Sri Lanka finds nearly 6,000 elephants in count

Sep 02, 2011 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's authorities say nearly 6,000 elephants had been found in an island wide census, which was slammed by conservationists as a cover for rulers to identify tusked elephants for capture and domestication.

"Out of the total wild elephant population 1107 are calves and juveniles," minister of agrarian services and wildlife S M Chandrasena said.

"This is a positive indicator about the growth of the island’s wild elephant population."

Some wildlife experts have expected around 6,000 or more elephants to be found as around 200 to 300 elephants are killed each year by farmers or in accidents amid a growing 'human animal' conflict.

A mortality of more than 2,000 animals a decade pointed to a higher population number, experts have said.

"We are fortunate that a large elephant population is living in Sri Lanka compared to other Asian countries," Chandrasena said.

"The Mahaweli (river valley) region recorded 1751 elephants, the highest in the island.

"The north of the island which could not be accessed earlier because of the war has recorded 233 elephants."

Conservationists pulled out of the census after Chandrasena was quoted as saying last month that 300 elephants woul

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