As Human Populations Increase, Elephants Pay the Price
By correspondent James Wills in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Once upon a time, large herds of elephants roamed freely throughout Asia’s grasslands and forests. Now there are less than 40,000 Asian elephants in the wild because of human-elephant conflicts, poaching and habitat losses.
Asian elephants face fragmentation and habitat losses because nearly all Asian countries are experiencing rapid growth in their human populations. This continuous population growth is leading to the destruction of the elephant habitats as humans clear forests for agriculture, infrastructure development, livestock grazing and heavy logging practices.
As the natural habitats of Asian elephants diminish, hungry elephants are forced to search for food outside of the forest. This quest for food leads to the elephants pillaging local villagers’ fields of such crops as cassava, rice, and bananas.
To protect their crops, angry villagers fight back, regrettably injuring and killing many elephants. Human fatalities also result from the clashes between elephants and humans. The number of these types of conflicts is on the rise as the elephants’ wild habitats continue to disappear. Every year in Sri Lanka, approximately 60 people and 120 elephants are killed in these human-elephant clashes. Asian elephants are also regularly poached for their ivory tusks and other body parts.
Amid all this adversity, however, is some hope. A team called “Wildlife Without Borders” is working to stop poaching through conservation projects and efforts to mitigate human-elephants conflicts. They are also pushing for the creation of laws to monitor illegal poaching and logging. The team is also spreading awareness among people to help save the elephants.
Hopefully Wildlife Without Borders makes a difference. For, if these human-elephant conflicts keep on occuring, it won’t be long before we no longer see a wild elephant in any Asian country.
James is a resident of Colombo in the country of Sri Lanka. He works as the security manager of a hotel. His passion is the protection of wildlife.