Sri Lanka count finds more elephants than expected

Sep 03, 2011 By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI , Associated Press
In this Aug. 12, 2011 file photo, a herd of Asiatic wild elephants gather at a national park in Minneriya, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Colombo, Sri Lanka. The first national survey of Sri Lanka's wild elephants shows that the Indian Ocean island has a population of more than 5,800 _ slightly higher than previous official estimates, officials said Friday Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, File)

(AP) -- The first national survey of Sri Lanka's wild elephants found more than had been estimated - a sign the endangered species has a healthy, growing population on the Indian Ocean island.

The count conducted last month in forests and wildlife parks found 5,879 wild , of which 122 are tuskers and 1,107 calves, Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandrasena said Friday.

Previous counts did not cover the entire island, but the end of a quarter-century civil war in 2009 opened former war zones to wildlife workers.

The information gathered from the survey will be used to devise plans to protect the endangered species, Wildlife Department Director General H.D. Ratnayake said.

The previous population estimate was 5,350 elephants, he said.

"These statistics show that Sri Lanka's elephants are in good health and that their population is growing," Ratnayake said.

Ratnayake said other details of the survey are still being processed and would be released later.

About 20 wildlife groups withdrew their support of the count, accusing the government of using it as a "smoke screen" for capturing the and domesticating some of the young for use in Buddhist temples, tourism and labor.

Their accusation came after Chandrasena was quoted as saying 300 young elephants would be captured and handed over to Buddhist temples after the census. Elephants in elaborate costumes are often used in Buddhist ceremonies where they parade through the streets carrying the sacred relics of the Buddha.

Chandrasena has said he was misquoted and no wild elephants would be captured.

In the early 1900s, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 elephants roamed wild on this off southern India. But poaching and the loss of habitat due to human activities such as for farming have taken their toll.

Wild elephants are increasingly entering villages in search of food, rampaging through houses, destroying crops and killing an estimated 50 people a year.

Around 250 elephants are killed annually, mostly by farmers defending their crops or villages.

The survey was conducted using the method known as "water hole count" and about 4,000 wildlife workers, farmers and villagers were deployed for three days at more than 1,500 locations across the country to survey the elephants as they come to water sources for a drink.

Previous elephant counts were confined to specific regions. One such census, in 1993, found 1,967 elephants, but it excluded the island's north and east, where a civil war was raging at the time. With the war's end in 2009, wildlife officials this time conducted the survey in the former too.

Explore further: Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sri Lankan elephant numbers are 'healthy': survey

Sep 02, 2011

Sri Lanka's elephant population remains healthy despite decades of fighting between government and rebel forces, the first survey since the end of the nation's bloody civil war showed Friday.

Sri Lanka begins 1st countrywide elephant census

Aug 12, 2011

(AP) -- Thousands of wildlife officials and volunteers have taken up positions on treetop huts near reservoirs and watering holes for Sri Lanka's first national count of its dwindling wild elephant population.

Sri Lanka plans first census of elephants

Feb 16, 2011

Sri Lanka is planning its first ever census of elephants as the animals increasingly come into conflict with villagers, a top official said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Apr 18, 2014

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tkjtkj
not rated yet Sep 03, 2011
The first national survey of Sri Lanka's wild elephants found more than had been estimated - a sign the endangered species has a healthy, growing population on the Indian Ocean island.


riiight. Take one accurate number and compare it to many earlier measurements that are *known* to be inaccurate, and treat them the same ... Hogwash, and very very bad science .. science that any undergraduate would (properly) reject!
"One point does not a trend make!"
or, in math:
"a point does not have a slope"

-Growing???? maybe your next measurement will answer that.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (6) Sep 03, 2011
elephants should be imported to the amazon if people want them to survive.

all these morons who call themselves environmentalists think that introducing invasive species is against nature. well guess what. we are THE invasive species and we are killing everything. if you want large mammals like elephants to survive, they need huge forests and space. the amazon is very sparsely inhabited and has plenty of food.

side benefit is that if they do well in the amazon, they will be a signifier of further forest destruction when it happens in the future ( which it will)
GuruShabu
1 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2011
these are only "elephants" imagine modelling weather for grants on Global Warming...:)))
ThanderMAX
not rated yet Sep 04, 2011
How BBQed elephant taste like ?

Better utilize the resource than waste it
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2011
side benefit is that if they do well in the amazon, they will be a signifier of further forest destruction when it happens in the future ( which it will)
It would indeed if you put elephants in the Amazon and they survived.

Elephants are hard on trees.

Ethelred

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.