Kalawana forest enclosure for Sinharaja elephants | Sunday Observer

Kalawana forest enclosure for Sinharaja elephants

Cabinet permission is being sought to allocate a plot of land within the forests of Kalawana to enclose the last two wet zone elephants roaming within the Sinharaja forest reserve, the Department of Wildlife confirmed.

Director General of the Department of Wildlife, Chandana Sooriyabandara assured that the enclosure will be within the home range of the elephants.

“There is no other solution due to the complexity of the situation,” he said, adding that the lives of both the elephants and humans must be protected, while wildlife officers in the area have other duties in the area which they must execute.

According to Environmentalist Jagath Gunawardena, however, it must be ascertained if the area is adequate for the elephants to roam while also ensuring there is ample food and water for them in the proposed area.

“There are also worries whether the animals will be harmed by certain parties while being enclosed,” he said, adding that close monitoring will be needed. Gunawardena said that it was difficult to say whether it would be successful.

Minister of Wildlife and Sustainable Development, Sarath Fonseka recently proposed that the elephants be moved to sixty-two hectares of land from the Parugala area in Dolekanda Grama Niladhari division of Kalawana after the previous decision to move the elephants to the Horowpothana holding centre were halted on the orders of President Maithripala Sirisena due to concerns raised by environmental organisations.

Groups of villagers in the area have been requesting the removal of elephants due to various issues such as attacks by the elephants.

However, Departmental sources claim the recent ad hoc decision was taken by the Ministers in charge without the consultation of experts in the field. Environmentalists and other experts had previously requested that research regarding the behaviour of the elephants should be conducted before taking a decision.

Others say the elephants may escape the enclosure as seen in the case of the Horowpothana elephant holding centre.