Human- elephant conflicts have been a growing problem in Sri Lanka. A 19-year average recorded by the Department of Wildlife shows that in a year 223 elephants and 65 humans are killed due to these conflicts. Due to the present reduction of elephant habitats, these conflicts are inevitable.
The present wild elephant population in the country is estimated at around 5,500. With such annual losses, this population is severely threatened. Long-term and short-term strategies, are urgently needed if these elephants are to be saved.
The creation of awareness is one of the conservation strategies that have been adopted, especially for those living in the areas of human-elephant conflict. Awareness creation is an integral part of the conservation plan for the wild elephant. The Biodiversity & Elephant Conservation Trust has launched an awareness program in schools in the areas that have been affected by these conflicts. Through our interactive program, we address the value of elephants, the causes of conflict, how to minimize the conflicts and stress the need for conservation. The sessions have been successful in changing children’s attitudes.
The Schools Awareness Program has covered, in the last 15 years, at 150 schools per year, over 2,250 schools. The year 2018 is our sixteenth year. The success of our efforts has spurred us to continue and expand this program which is having a very positive impact on the children we have our sessions with.