Causes for the Rude Behavior of Elephants in and around the Udawalawe National Park
Sri Lankan elephants (Elphahas maximus maximus) genetically highly migrating sub-species
need more and free natural ways to move to find their seasonal ecological niche as natural
way of life. As study area, Udawalawe National Park (UNP) is a major elephant range and
elephants are considered as key stone species of the park. The objective of this study was to
find the causes for the rude behavior of elephants at the UNP. The fieldwork was conducted
in east, west and south of the park through observation and interviews with officers and local
people in April and December 2014. Data analysis was carried out based on obtained
qualitative and quantitative data.
The villagers trespass to the park and corridors for number of illegal activities and also to
build fences and huts. Besides this, visitors throw stones, hoot vehicle hones and flash their
cameras. Due to the above such human activities and with the attraction of fruits and
vegetables around the park, at night around 7.00 pm to 1.00 am they feed and trample outside
the park especially in March and April. People light crackers, light fires, shout, make noises
with tins and coconut shells and sometimes shoot the elephants to chase. With such repeated
incidents, the elephants become rude.
According to the field study, out of nearly 325 to 400 elephants, three or four elephants throw
long logs onto the electric wires and by connecting two wires together they defuse them.
Some elephants also push and fell the posts on which the barbed wires are fixed. Another
three elephants push the wire with their backs intermittently and then cross the fence. When
the elephants find their habitats and corridors blocked by settlements, walls and cultivation,
stubborn to change their route, they demolish the walls, eat the crops and trample them as
they move on. If anybody happens to encounter the elephants in such a situation, they pitch
violently to the ground and trample to death. Elephants have adopted this behavior as their
self-defense mechanism because of unethical human practices in and around the park and
Keywords: Rude behaviour, Elephant, Udawala National Park
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Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sri Lanka. Published by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura