Human Elephant Conflict-Sri Lanka – by Oscar E V Fernando


Oscar Fernando

The smashing of a human head-breaking of an arm or leg of a father, mother brother sister walking a lonely dusky eve to bring a meagre loaf of bread to a family eagerly waiting for their hungry dinner-to hear the news that the sibling or parent had been smashed to death by an elephant on the way for the family bread-is no joyous news to a family living in a village bordering wild elephant infested jungle-or even for an elegant family in an elite Colombo Cozy home-what horrendous news the latter would produce and how normal the former would be-is it the new normal? Nay-it is a fairly old normal Sri Lankan society is bloodied with for decades-no end.

How will the two families react? The sibling of the bordering village will initially sigh for the dead and then gradually for the loss of an opportunity to enter a neighboring school for that digital education she hears so much about-the other in Colombo may perhaps sigh for that loss of an education in a foreign Uni-nevertheless the cold blooded breaking of heart means the same for both-but society in general would make a voodooed song and dance about the latter and only a sidelined news space for the former that people would read and pass on settling down to the busy-ness of routine controversies-such as-no difference between man and animal-the gentleness of elephant family behaviors seen with binoculars amidst a tot or two-do they give a damn in hades for that poor child who lost all chances of further education and living with all hopes smashed??

Just no one makes a suggestion to end the conflict prone fiasco one way or the other-only the self-gratification of those binocular scenes or keep off the subject to pacify the sections of society making the conflict a tool to retain power-glory and pelf.

It was a good fifty years back this writer witnessed the electric fence saga on a trip to Gal Oya in his youth-it is sad to say this drum beat of the fence is being drummed over and over again with no apparent solution to end the sighs of those at the border.

Can we at least give some thought to the possibility of getting the attention of the World Bank to dispatch-free of charge the Gentle Giants-in experimentally gradual stages to a climatically friendly jungle in India or Africa leaving a few to breed over a period given to re-forest-a long drawn-out process-but an exercise better than twiddling thumbs on controversial debates leaving innocents to die!

To this writer the life of just one human being is worth over a million elephants-food for thought to those debaters-with nary a suggestion of solution.

Oscar E V Fernando

May 2021

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