1 Oct,COLOMBO. Sri Lankan wildlife officials on Monday said a team of officials from the wildlife department, army and police had launched a massive search operation in the Habarana Forest Reserve after the carcasses of seven elephants were found over the weekend.
Local media reports quoting officials from the wildlife department said the search operation would also extend into the surrounding areas to see if any more animals had fallen prey to these mysterious deaths.
The dead elephants included one pregnant elephant. Wildlife officers suspect that the elephants might have been killed by injecting them with some kind of poison. However, further investigations are being carried out to ascertain the exact cause of deaths.
State Minister of Tourism Development and Wildlife Ranjith Aluvihare carried out an inspection tour of the area on Sunday and said the government would take full responsibility for the deaths.
The Sri Lankan government has said recently the death toll from Sri Lanka’s human-elephant conflict hit a record high with over 375 people killed by wild elephants and over 1,100 elephants killed by humans within the last five years.
Official records show the population of wild elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated at 7,500.
Killing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is an offence punishable by death, but there have been regular reports of angry villagers poisoning or shooting them. Xinhua