With the high incidence of human-elephant conflicts in the Hambantota District, a landmark MoU was signed between the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and the District Secretariat Office of Hambantota. HIPG donated fifty thousand US Dollars with the signing of the MoU.
Issuing a press release, the HIPG said it has identified that the ‘Human – Elephant Conflict,’ which has become a major environmental and social issue in the island, is very much in line with their long-term commitment to ensure that the community can coexist with nature whilst ensuring the livelihood of all communities.
As per the MoU signed with HIPG, the donated funds will be held by the Hambantota District Secretariat Office, who would drive the project, while the Department of Wildlife Conservation will be the implementing party.
In the initial phase of the plan, the Wildlife Department hopes to install electric fences in the identified high-risk areas, as well as conduct awareness programs for the general public on the ‘Human-Elephant Conflict.’
Promoting awareness among business institutions will also be carried out to ensure that they are mindful of the situation in terms of taking precautions when doing ongoing developments, and follow through with placing information boards and signboards at identified locations; clearing sides of the road; digging trenches; placing lights for more visibility etc. to give prior warning.
Under the guidance of the District Secretariat, the Wildlife Department also plans to deploy tree cultivation programmes in forest areas so that elephants would be able to feed, without infiltrating village areas in search of food.
This is the second initiative supported by the Hambantota International Port Group to bring about a resolution to the human elephant conflict. The port operator has donated over US $ 100,000 for the cause.
“HIPG will support this program financially, and we believe the District Secretariat will empower the Wildlife Department to carry out their program of mitigation on the short term, while looking for more long-term solutions. It is our hope that in the future the word ‘conflict’ will be replaced with the word ‘peace’, between man and elephant,” says Johnson Liu, CEO of the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG).
- P. Sumanasekara, District Secretary of Hambantota says, “True development can take place in Hambantota only when man can live in harmony with nature. This project will minimise human activity within elephant habitats, which will reduce the conflict. It is vital that each has their own area to live in and this donation will help us to come up with viable solutions to this very pressing issue”.
The District Secretariat intends to have discussions with villagers who are impacted by the conflict, with a view to discovering deeper issues faced by them, and finding solutions jointly.
The MoU signing event took place at the Hambantota Maritime Centre and was attended by officials from the District Secretariat and HIP.