Saturday, May 10, 2014

Elephant Incursion

Coconut Palm leaves broken by Elephant
We (Wilpattu House) had an elephant coming into the property on 8th May 2014.  This was regardless of the Elephant deterrent 6 foot deep ditch around the place.  This smart elephant broke the earth on the ditch to make it less steep and managed to climb over to the property.  Luckily not much harm was done other than breaking two coconut palm leaves.  The watcher/caretaker was awakened and had lit a couple of crackers.  I dont think this Elephant was scared away, he just wishes to avoid confrontation.

This elephant, who nobody has really seen, much less photographed is a really large animal with a footprint of   1.5 feet (457 mm).  I guess old too, older than the New Eluvamkulam town.  New Eluvamkulam town was established in the 90's when the old village moved to the South of the Army and Navy points to avoid LTTE attacks.
The Elephants Foot print 1.5 feet across

This big old elephant probably lives in the replanted jungle of the Holcim Quarry site at Aruwakkadu/Gangewadiya.  New Eluvamkulam, Kala-Oya and Wilpattu are probably his territory. 

See link (in Sinhala thanks Tilak Ranaweera) for plans to fill old quarry pit with garbage from Colombo.

Economics of  Elephant Destruction of Plantations
Compared to Paddy fields, destruction of a coconut, cashew or other plantations by Elephants has long term consequences.  Thats because destruction of a Paddy field affects only that harvest.  In the case of a plantation, the destroyed tree/s will need to be replanted and loss of income until the tree starts yielding.

Earth on Ditch broken to
enable climbing by The Elephant
In the case of a  coconut tree which bears about 15 nuts per pluck every 45 days means a loss of 120 coconuts (=15x12/1.5) a years.  Assuming it takes 7  years for the coconut tree to bear 15 nuts/pluck and a coconut sells at LKR 25, that is a loss of LKR 21,000 (=120x25x7) per coconut tree.

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