In the wake of elephants being killed in train accidents, Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Minister Sarath Fonseka yesterday said measures would be taken to implement high-tech sensors to prevent collisions between elephants and trains.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference at the United National Party (UNP) headquarters of Sirikotha, Fonseka yesterday said that his ministry had carried out tests to implement sensor systems to alert train drivers and help prevent accidents.
Fonseka said that prior to his appointment there were 83 incidents reported of elephants being hit by trains and after his appointment around 10 elephants were killed in three incidents.
Fonseka pointed out that the elephant population had risen during the past few decades.
“In 1985, 2,500 elephants were recorded and today that number has risen up to 7,000,” he added.
According to Fonseka, elephant habitats had increased due to the deforestation caused by development activities such as the Moragahakanda Dam Project and these populations had migrated to other sites, causing social issues.
“The elephants that lived in Moragahakanda have moved to places like Diyabeduma and those elephants were causing agricultural losses to the people who were living in the area. Once the Wayamba Ela Project starts, two-thirds of the habitat of elephants will be reduced.”
Responding to a question on the recent cases of leopards attacking people, he said that the Government would take action against those who killed animals listed as endangered species.
“People have to understand that killing a leopard is unacceptable. Those animals can be captured and relocated to safer areas.”
He pointed out that the Government had taken measures to raise awareness to prevent leopards being attacked.