Climate Influences on Human-Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka

Zubair, Lareef M.; Blumenthal, Martin Benno; Ndiaye, Ousmane; Perera, Ruvini; Ward, M. Neil; Yahiya, Zeenas; Chandimala, Janaki; Ralapanawe, Vidhura; Tennakoon, Upamala; Siraj, M. R. A.; Manthrithillake, Herath; Hendawitharna, W. L.

Contemporary ecological research supports focus on the preservation of habitats and the preservation of keystone species that are critical to the ecological character of the habitats. Conservation of endangered species works best with attention not only to the species but also to the needs of the people who may be adjacent to or bordering habitats. Southern Sri Lanka fall into the category of globally important biodiversity hotspots. The biggest land animal, the elephant is the keystone species in Sri Lanka outside the highlands. The population of elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated to be between 3000 and 4,000; yet there has been an alarming loss of 1000 elephants during from 1990-2003. Given its island setting and rich hydro-climatic data, Sri Lanka provides a unique opportunity to study the dynamics leading to species loss. Our work in this project was initially motivated by the practical concerns of our project partners in the Mahaweli River Basin in Sri Lanka where the human-elephant conflict was a major problem. The question that arose was: "Are the climate, water availability and river basin management practices contributing to conflict between elephants and people?" If this was indeed the case, then, could one adaptively manage the river basin, organize agricultural practices, and prioritize conflict mitigation options such as separate habitat enrichment programs? Moreover, could we propose various adaptive measures in changes if one could monitor the climate and environmental conditions and take advantage of seasonal climate predictions.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for IRI_Tech_Report_10-02_LZubair.pdf IRI_Tech_Report_10-02_LZubair.pdf application/pdf 2.73 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
IRI Technical Report, 10-02
Published Here
June 2, 2010