Garbage Dump Elephants
Many community garbage dumps are not fenced and the elephants lurk along the boundaries waiting for the dump trucks to depart. They consume plastics and other non-digestibles, often leading to clogged intestines and death. The law requires these dumps to be fences, but they seldom are.
Film Shorts: relating to the following:
End of 25 year Civil War
-Its effects on elephants. -Refugees return to the fields left fallow for up to 25 years. -Restoration in the north, far east and far south, where there are latent needs and infrustructural repairs in the villages. -New projects to bring these areas up to the standards of the more developed central region. -Mega-sized projects to spur economic development and equality to the Tamil dominant regions. New dams are requiring herding of elephants into the surrounding jungle. A new international airport and large marina/harbor in the south have required herding over 200 elephants alone, which is over 5% of Sri Lanka’s entire elephant population.
Fencing -Temporary seasonal fencing around cultivated fields. -Fencing around villages. -Fencing around ranges, or corridors.
Corridors verses Ranges -New management theories about corridor protection and enhancement are being put into practice by the governments’ new plan.
-Conservationists think differently about corridors and prefer enhancement of Ranges (particular to each herd).
Wells -Agricultural wells are dug with steep banks and elephant calves fall into them and then the cows fall in trying to rescue them.
Jungle reservoirs (tanks) -10 -15,000 tanks, dating back thousands of year, are left dry in the jungle.
-Elephants are forced to seek water along the jungle fringes, conflicting with villagers use.
Development, (especially as a result of the war’s end) -The 25 year civil war has ended, development and tourism is running rampant.
-Elephants are being pushed out and overcrowding the surrounding jungles. -Poisonings/explosives,
-Hakka patas are explosive laden food. Black powder is ground with tasty edibles and are usually intended for small game, but is often eaten by elephants, deforming their mouths, making drinking and eating impossible. Death results.
Crop rotation, seasonally fallow fields (chenas) -See fencing above. Chenas are being reduced due to investments in irrigation and new dams.
Irrigation and new dams
-Chena cultivation goes back thousands of years - farmers plant during the wet season, and let the fields go fallow in the off-season. The elephants then come in and eat the leavings, the chaff.
-Lack of wildlife crossings/bridges or tunnels. -No wildlife crossings. Elephants die by collisions with trains and are deterred from crossing major highways by unintended consequences, and barriers.
Lack of Environmental Impact Studies/Statements
-EIS’s are not prepared for the big governmental projects - as is the standard in the west. Wildlife has to be accounted for in any large development.
Religious connection to iconic elephants -It is perhaps being compromised by the pressure of progress. -Sri Lanka's religious population may be losing connection to the elephants. (70% are Buddhists, 15% Hindus: the elephant is an icon). Is the desire for western values or consumerism affecting this relationship?
Self protection - tree houses, firecrackers, guns etc -You can judge the level of elephant/human conflict by the shear number of tree houses built in a locality and there are many.
-Firecrackers are handed out for free by the government - but unfortunately some unethical villagers or farmers turn them into bombs and explosive laden food.
Orphanages -These are used as a home of last resort, but may be corrupted by tourism. -Pinnawalla Orphanage is world famous - the largest captive population in the world - is this good or bad?
-What do the conservationist think, the DWC, locals, tourists etc.
Parks -Elephants don’t stay within their boundaries. -About 25% of the elephants remain in parks, they are especially ineffective for restraining bulls.
-How does the management of Parks play into the new long range elephant management plan?
Bull behavior -Nearly 100% of the marauding elephants are bulls - what drives them to this behavior? -The tuskers especially are nearly extinct. Even the marauding bulls are not necessarily bad - they are just being elephants. How to manage them?
Herd behavior -Matriarchal behavior - rearing the calves etc - what’s the makeup of a herd? -How do Sri Lankan elephant differ from other Asian’s and the African species? How far do they range, do they need or use corridors?
Tracking/radio collaring -20 were tracked in a Smithsonian funded program, and it changed the course of elephant management - -There should be 100 collared now to really study elephants movement. What has been found out?
Elephant holding ground -The world’s most solid fence (really) has been constructed for use in holding translocated elephants. -We will be filming the first elephants to be translocated into this new facility. -What is the holding capacity of a 3,000 acres secure area? -What are the expectations and proposed use of this, and similar, facilities?