Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 10, pp 2465–2481 | Cite as

Perceptions and Patterns of Human–elephant Conflict in Old and New Settlements in Sri Lanka: Insights for Mitigation and Management

  • Prithiviraj Fernando
  • Eric Wikramanayake
  • Devaka Weerakoon
  • L.K.A. Jayasinghe
  • Manori Gunawardene
  • H.K. Janaka


Human–elephant conflict poses a major threat to elephants in many parts of Asia, including Sri Lanka. We studied human–elephant conflict in two areas with contrasting scenarios of landuse and conflict, Kahalle and Yala. Kahalle was developed and settled under the Mahaweli irrigation project and the main agricultural practice was irrigated agriculture, with two annual growing seasons. The area was a mosaic of settlements, agriculture, and small forest patches with ill defined human- and elephant-use areas. Elephants ranged within the habitat mosaic year round, occupying remnant forest patches and raiding adjacent crops at night. In contrast, Yala was dominated by a large protected area complex, and the main agricultural methods were slash-and-burn agriculture and rain-fed paddy cultivation. Human- and elephant-use areas were well defined and segregated. The protected area provided elephants with a refuge and food during the rainy season, when the single annual crop was grown. During the dry season, elephants moved into slash-and-burn areas and utilized leftover crops and pioneer vegetation in fallow fields. The landuse pattern and agricultural practices in Yala facilitated co-existence, whereas that in Kahalle led to year round conflict. We suggest that areas managed according to traditional landuse practices should be part of an elephant conservation strategy, where people and elephants have to share resources.


Conservation Elephants Human–elephant conflict Sri Lanka Wildlife management 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prithiviraj Fernando
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric Wikramanayake
    • 2
    • 3
  • Devaka Weerakoon
    • 2
    • 4
  • L.K.A. Jayasinghe
    • 2
  • Manori Gunawardene
    • 2
  • H.K. Janaka
    • 2
  1. 1.Wildlife Trust New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Conservation and ResearchRajagiriyaSri Lanka
  3. 3.Conservation Science ProgramWorld Wildlife Fund-USWashington, DCUSA
  4. 4.University of ColomboColomboSri Lanka

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