Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Human-Elephant Conflict fieldwork

Family homes in Rathambalagama are sometimes damaged by elephants
Family homes are sometimes damaged by elephants

Shrinking elephant habitats and expanding human populations mean people and elephants increasingly come into contact throughout their range.  Elephants can be dangerous to humans, and can devastate crops and buildings. Each year around 50 people in Sri Lanka are killed by elephants and over 200 elephants are killed by farmers defending their crops. Born Free works to humanely reduce human elephant conflict in order to minimise persecution of elephants and protect the livelihoods of low income communities.

As an extension of our community work in Rathambalagama village in 2010 Born Free began an Elephant Resistant Crop (ERC) project with the local farmers. Starting at a grassroots level and working closely with the community, a small group of interested farmers was selected and provided with seedlings of identified ERCs – ginger, turmeric and black pepper. These are crops that are identified as being suitable for cultivation in the area, commanding a good market price, and being unappealing to elephants and hence resistant to damage from elephant incursions.

A local farmer who was injured several years ago by a wild elephant has been taken on as Field Assistant to help with project monitoring. Participating farmers are visited on a weekly basis to collect information on the progress of their crops and visits from elephants (which are frequent!). As the project progresses more farmers are being recruited and the range of ERCs being used is being expanded. Existing farmers are also assisted in retaining seeds / cuttings etc in order to propagate those crops they are already cultivating on a larger scale, as well as in organic farming techniques and other agro-environmental topics.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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