Sri Lanka count finds more elephants than expected

September 3, 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: Wildlife groups boycott Sri Lankan elephant census


Related Stories

Sri Lankan elephant numbers are 'healthy': survey

September 2, 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

August 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

February 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

Researchers identify genes for 'Help me!' aromas from corn

October 25, 2016

When corn seedlings are nibbled by caterpillars, they defend themselves by releasing scent compounds that attract parasitic wasps whose larvae consume the caterpillar—but not all corn varieties are equally effective at ...

Genome editing: Efficient CRISPR experiments in mouse cells

October 25, 2016

In order to use the CRISPR-Cas9 system to cut genes, researchers must design an RNA sequence that matches the DNA of the target gene. Most genes have hundreds of such sequences, with varying activity and uniqueness in the ...

Structure of key DNA replication protein solved

October 25, 2016

A research team led by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) has solved the three-dimensional structure of a key protein that helps damaged cellular DNA repair itself. Investigators say that knowing ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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.
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)
1 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2011
these are only "elephants" imagine modelling weather for grants on Global Warming...:)))
not rated yet Sep 04, 2011
How BBQed elephant taste like ?

Better utilize the resource than waste it
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.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.