The Elephant Count

Politicians often cite a high population of wild elephants. However, the wild elephant population is about 4,000, not 6,000, or even 7,000 as is often cited!. The elephant census of 2011 was funded by a group that wanted to prove that the population was large enough to warrant the capture of wild elephants. Highly positioned wildlife officials stated to our organization that over-counts of elephants was prevalent during the "official" elephant census. The census was run against all standard wildlife-count protocol. Local, politically connected folks, used "peak" dry season numbers viewed at these locations, instead of actual sightings. Sometimes hundreds were recorded, while there were only 10 or fewer present. Counting elephants is like herding cats - difficult under any circumstance, much less when the motivations are corrupted. Also, one-third of the remaining wild elephants are now homeless and wandering from farm to farm, trying to survive. This is due to the huge industrialization and development going on in Sri Lanka since the end of the war 6 years ago. Additionally, since 2011, an average of 260 elephants are dying each year by human hands. With a birth rate of only 120 per year, this alone would reduce the elephant population by 600 individuals since the corrupted census was completed. This year is projected to have a record 300 deaths. Philip Price, Executive Director, 

More Detail: The most reliable wildlife officials have expressed to me personally (Philip), that the census was wrong! Upon followup, these officials interviewed local authorities who submitted census was found that many of them had submitted "peak population" numbers. This means that many elephants were counted twice...once in their home habitat and again in their dry season or migratory habitat (i.e.: in the wet zones, during monsoon and again in their dry season habitat, like Minneriya Park). Specifically, one local official reported 300 elephants (a peak season number), while there are only perhaps 30 elephants calling it "home" year 'round. When tourists snap and post pics of prolifically sized herds (80 and more)'s during the dry season, when the elephants are in abundance in specific locations. It's important to understand that they've migrated to be near to water and available forage. During the rest of the year, elephants are difficult to spot, because they are scattered in very low densities upon the low quality and ever decreasing lands allotted to them. [Philip]