Naula Divisional Secretariat Area: Elephants Wreak Havoc
By I.A. Kumara and Eunice Ruth
Farmers and villagers of the Naula Divisional Secretariat Division, said over 100 acres of paddy land used for cultivation was under threat due to wild elephants.
Villagers and farmers said the elephant menace has been going on for over a year. The authorities have turned a blind eye, they said.
“Elephants enter paddy fields and trample our crops which are ready for harvest. We cannot protect our crops by ourselves,” villagers said.
“Even though there are elephant fences, they are not electrified and elephants have destroyed some of these fences. Elephants run amok in our paddy fields, destroy our crops, and we lose our harvest. The Government and the relevant authorities should pay attention to this issue and give us a solution,” they said.
Meanwhile, at a Divisional Coordinating Committee meeting at the Naula Divisional Secretariat, the Wildlife Department said electric fences, which were erected from the Naula Divisional Secretariat to Sigirya were inactive for a distance of 80 kilometres. Meanwhile, only four Wildlife Officers were appointed to cover 180 kilometres and they lacked resources.
“We will pay immediate attention to this matter, by assigning staff to the Naula Wildlife Department and maintain elephant fences, to protect paddy lands and minimise the human-elephant conflict,” said Chairman of the Divisional Coordinating Committee and Matale District MP, Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon. Speaking to a Wildlife official, he said they will fix existing electric fences which are inactive and were planning to erect more fences with the help of the Civil Defence Force. He said currently, erecting fences was underway, to cover the entire region, to prevent elephants from entering fields and destroying crops. Previously, the Department recruited more staff and for some reason they left and the Civil Defence Force was deployed in affected regions. Maintenance of electric fences will also be handled by them, he said.
“Fencing and other measures related to reducing the human-elephant conflict will be completed within the next three months and we will bring the human-elephant conflict under control soon,” the official said.