The Hambantota Proposed Wild Elephants Management Reserve built for wild elephants by now has become a prey for the forest-firers, due to the fact that it is only reserved for name boards.
Accordingly, it is visible that in and around the area of Hambantota Mattala Kadawara Reserve, belonged to the Department of Forest Conservation, reserved for the Hambantota Proposed Wild Elephants Management Reserve, have been uncovered and burnt for over 500 acres illegally by some group of people, as a result of not properly being investigated by the authorities.
As a result huge trees, including Palmyra trees more than 100 years old and Halmilla trees, can be seen burnt down to the ground. It is surprising that the authorities have not come to attention, until the forest reserves belonged to the Department of Forest Conservation being destroyed, for many days.
It is this apocalypse of the natural heritages of wild elephants that heavily causes the long prevailed human-elephant conflict in Hambantota district.
However, for the authorities absenting from taking immediate actions to prevent these destructions, wild elephants moving into grounds of Hambantota which previously were not consistent with wild elephants has now been of occurrence. Accordingly, the human-elephant conflict, in places which was not previously existed, will continue to prevail.
While the human-elephant conflict is prevailing severely day by day, as a result of forest firing for development purposes and illegally, the damage wild elephants cause to humans as well as their crops can also be observed increased day by day within the areas.
In the meantime, so far around three human lives and many other properties and crops have been lost during the year as a result of wild elephants frequently raiding and attacking into the villages in Hambantota district.
“Because people themselves uncover and destroy these reserves, wild elephants raid into the villages, and instead of pointing finger at the Wildlife Officers, the duty and responsibility to protect the natural heritage of these wild elephants should also be carried out by the people”, said by Mr. J.A.P. Wijaya Kumara, the Site Security Officer of Hambantota Wildlife Office.
According to the gazette announcement of 772/22, dated into June 24 1993, stated in the amended National Environmental Act of 1980 under No. 47, prior to uncovering a forest of above 2.5 acres, even for a development project, a formal written environmental permission under Environment Impact Assessment Process should be obtained.
Nevertheless, these uncovering of the forests in areas including the Mattala Kadawara Reserve belonged to the Department of Forest Conservation at the Hambantota Proposed Wild Elephants Management Reserve violate the above act, and for legal procedures are not properly being undertaken, the reserve has already become a prey to the forest-firers.
The reports published about the Environment Impact Assessments prior to the development of Hambantota Port and the Airport clearly state that the elephants likely to be displaced with these development projects shall be conserved, and in order Hambantota Wild Elephants Management Reserve should be published.