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Friday, 28 October 2011






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Born free and wild

“Born Free, as free as the wind blows…
as free as the grass grows…
born free to follow your heart…

Live free and beauty surrounds you…
the world still astounds you…
each time you look at a star…

stay free, where no walls divide you…
you’re free as the roaring tide…
so there’s no need to hide.........”

- Don Black (lyrics) and John Barry (music)

Victim of human brutality

Enjoying a mud bath

Two calves enjoying themselves

“We are limited to 13 South and South East Asian countries that have elephants which are Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia Laos, Indonesia and Sumatra. The global population of Asian Elephants is around 35,000 – 45,000 and in Sri Lanka alone we have about 5000 – 6000.

“Sri Lanka is probably the best place in the world to see Asian elephants.

Elephants are much loved all over the world there is no culture today that doesn’t know an elephant and there is a great wonder in watching and observing these animals,” Centre for Conservation and Research Chairman and Smithsonian Institution Research Associate in USA Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando said.

If you look at elephants, you’ll see that they have a very distinct social structure. The females and the young ones live in herds.

Males and females

The herds that we see are mainly composed of females and young ones. Males, after becoming adults at around 10-15 years of age, lead solitary lives.

Adult males are of course much larger and they can be three times the size of adult females.

Baby with the mother

An elephant who has being shot

A tusker

There is sexual dimorphism - A big difference in size amongst adult males and females.

The gestation period is 18-22 months, added Dr. Fernando.

Between the age of 10 to 20 years, bulls undergo an annual phenomenon known as “musth”. This is a period where the testosterone level is up to 100 times greater than non-“musth” periods and they become extremely aggressive.

An elephant will usually live for about 40- 50 years in the wild.

Once a female gives birth she usually does not breed again until the first calf is weaned resulting in a 4-5 year birth interval.

“There is also a big competition amongst the males to get at the females to mate with them. Where females are concerned bigger is better and it is the bigger bull that wins.

But how do they become bigger? To get bigger they have to get at the largest resources and to do that they access cultivated crops.

Human-Elephant conflict

This is where all the problems related to the Human-Elephant conflict begin,” elaborated Dr. Fernando.

Approximately 50-60 humans and 200-220 elephants die annually because of this conflict. It also results in a significant economic loss to farmers, contributing to rural poverty.

Consequently the human-elephant conflict has become a major conservation, socio economic and political issue. “Over the past 15 years or so we have done a lot of research on the human elephant conflict and for the past six years or so with the wildlife conservation department.

Currently what is done is they dart the elephant with an anesthetic, tie him up put him in a truck and release him into a national park.

However, this is not a permanent solution because simply they don’t stay there. They ultimately wander off in a different direction,” added Dr. Fernando Something has to be done about it and just talking about it won’t help, words have to be put to action and to do that, the corporation of everyone is needed.


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