November 30, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is to turn a vast jungle area that was a base for the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels into a wildlife sanctuary, 18 months after the end of island’s bloody civil war, the government said Tuesday. The jungles of Mullaittivu, from where the rebels launched attacks for decades until they were defeated by government troops last year, has been declared a safe haven for wild animals, the information department said.
“The wildlife sanctuary would be a solution for the conflict between the humans and elephants in the surrounding areas,” it said in a statement, adding the sanctuary would be about 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares).
Spreading human settlement has left elephants short of habitat in Sri Lanka, with the animals often entering villages and farms looking for food.
Sri Lanka’s elephant population has dwindled to about 4,000 from about 12,000 in 1900, according to wildlife officials.