Sri Lanka wildlife groups boycott elephant census

Aug 10, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lankan conservation groups are boycotting an elephant census, and called on the private sector not to support the effort, after a government minister revealed plans to capture up to 300 calves with tusks for domestication. Agrarian and wildlife minister S M Chandrasena was reported as saying that the survey would be used to identify suitable male calves for domestication.

No Support

“After the minister’s announcement we made a decision to withdraw from the survey,” Pubudu Weerarathna of the Ruk Rakaganno, a conservation group, told reporters.

Environmentalists said 12 organizations have withdrawn from the survey to protest the move and are also urging the private sector to stop supporting the census.

“We are urging the private sector not to engage in this survey because there is a hidden agenda,” said Vimukthi Weeratunga of the Environmental Foundation, another conservation group.

Sri Lanka is estimated to have at least 4,000 elephants, but some conservationists have said it could be higher, perhaps as much as 50 percent or more.

So-called human animal conflicts have also increased. The census can give clearer idea about the actual population.

About 200 elephants are killed eac