The elephant conflict – how it impacts our businesses
Image - Sunday Times

The elephant conflict – how it impacts our businesses

Last week, a staggering amount of elephants -eight to be specific, were found dead in the deep jungles of Habarana.

It shocked the country – and the world.

Elephants have been dying at a record rate this year in Sri Lanka. The latest deaths are indeed worrisome at multiple levels.

What is the connection between the deaths of these mighty animals and entrepreneurs you might ask.

Come to think of it – plenty.

Not only were they the country’s – and the world’s legacy of preserving the wild and animal resources but they also impact our business opportunities and our capacity as business owners to do what we can do best – give back to our communities.

So what does the elephant- man conflict teach us in terms we understand – in ways that have an effect on our businesses?

Every elephant who dies impacts our business. One way or another.

It tells the world about our concern as a nation for our environment, for the animals that sustain it and the way in which it is protected as a part of a greater national heritage.

What can we do and how can we do something about it?

Understand the importance of the Sri Lankan elephant as the nation’s greatest natural asset –

Do we truly understand the importance of these mighty animals to us and our heritage? Elephants have been associated with our culture for centuries ; they will continue to be our singularly vital strength in more ways than one.

They are not only a tourist attraction whether you agree with the principles of viewing them in captivity or in the wild, but they are also a treasure the country possesses ; and must be sustained to ensure that future generations understand the importance of their existence.

Update ourselves on the current status of the Sri Lankan elephant –

Each of us have an obligation to ourselves to understand what is going on – the deaths, how they happen, the elephants that were killed by the trains, the poachers and the role played by man in restricting the freedom of the pachyderms.

Knowledge is power. When we know what is happening, we can look at ways to understand things better – and do our little part to make things better for the animals and for the communities affected by these animals.

Mitigate the human-elephant conflict better –

As a community, we also have an obligation to provide a win-win solution for the conflict. A tough task no doubt but the communities around the elephant herds have several issues that often end in conflict with the animals. How can those issues be solved better – destroyed crops, homes and even lives lost – elephant attacks are common in these parts of the country.

Although man is often blamed for encroaching into the wild, in practical terms, such issues need to be mitigated in a manner that assure relief for both parties. As a community, we can do our part by contributing towards or encouraging such measures.

Be conscious of the message it send out into the world –

The elephant deaths got wide media coverage across the world ; it did send out a negative message about us as a nation. What could we have done to prevent it? Do we truly understand the implications of such adverse publicity – on our tourism potential, our businesses and our reputation as a country that takes care of its animals?

We need to understand that killing elephants is a sorry saga for the rest of the world – as it is for the majority of us who have been shocked by the frequent deaths reported in media of these majestic animals.

Do our little bit towards better conservation of our elephants –

We must teach our children that these elephants are a part of our national treasure – we can do our little bit towards ensuring their proper conservation and accountability on part of the wildlife officials towards ensuring safety and security for these animals.

Raise our voices for their protection and make sure our voice is added to the concern raised at a national level for better protection of elephants.

Give our time and resources towards such conservation measures wherever possible – there is a little bit that all of us can do to make this a reality.


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