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 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
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
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
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.
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
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.