Crop damage by Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) in Ekgaloya and Dewalahinda areas in Ampara District, Eastern province, Sri Lanka

Manori Karunarathne, K. B. Ranawana, Danushka S Weerasekera


Article Details: Received: 2020-04-21 | Accepted: 2020-09-04 | Available online: 2021-03-31

Sri Lanka is one of the Asian countries to support a considerable number of wild elephants mainly in the dry zone of the country. But today elephants have become one of the most seriously endangered large mammals in Sri Lanka and the world as well. Agricultural crop damage by elephants has become a most common and serious problem across the elephant range in Sri Lanka due to negative interaction of people and the elephants. Eastern province is one of such areas where severe crop damage by wild elephants could be observed. In these areas, most of the directly affected families are having low income level. For this common problem, still there is no proper mitigation plans to lower the impacts. Therefore, this study focused on the analysis of economic losses to cultivated crops, identify the most vulnerable crop species and suggest viable control measures to minimize this problem to a certain extent in the area. This study was carried out in two villages within one cropping season under two stages. Household survey including randomly selected 50 villagers from each village was conducted. Highest crop damage incidents were recorded in Dewalahinda area. Of the widely grown crop varieties, maize (Zea mays) and paddy (Oryza sativa) are subjected to heavy damage in both villages. Paddy and maize were reported as damage crop species by wild elephants in Ekgaloya and 19 households (out of 33) suffered due to that crop raiding incident. Out of 38 crop damage incidents in Dewalahinda, 28 households reported damages in maize and 26 household reported damages in paddy. Wild elephants have shown a least interest on some crop varieties such as chilli (Capsicum annum), ladies’ finger (Hibiscus esculentus) and peanut (Arachis hypogaea).  But these crop fields were heavily damaged by elephants as they walk across these fields. In both villages, the harvesting period seemed to be affected more by crop damages than other times. However, the post harvesting period was also affected occasionally especially in stored paddy.

Keywords: endangered, socio-economic, cropping season, vulnerable crop species, Macroscopic analysis


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