A collaborative project between International
Research Institute for Climate Prediction
, Center for Environmental
Research and Conservation
, Center for International Earth Science
and Wildlife Trust
A pen sketch by Prithiviraj Fernando (Co-PI)
"Thakshila" from Uda Walawe in South-Eastern Sri
Lanka is the matriarch of a bond group of about 20 animals. She is
very aggressive and more often than not will greet you with a 'mock charge'.
Asian Elephants numbering about 40,000 are an
endangered species. Anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 of these elephants are in
Sri Lanka. Due to population pressures on elephant habitat, there is a severe
toll both on elephants and rural communities from Human-Elephant Conflict.
This conflict is at the heart of environmental conflict, regulation and protection
in rural areas. Both Human and Elephant behaviour in the conflict zone are
affected by the climate. Climate affects water availability, vegetation,
agricultural practices and irrigation. All of these factors could under
conditions (such as drought, certain patterns of irrigation or agriculture)
lead to conflict and competition.
The number of elephants killed each year according to the Sri Lanka Department
of Wildlife Conservation has been reported as
These figures mean that the elephant population will not last in Sri Lanka
for more than a few decades unless there is improved management. There are
many tales of woe on the human side as well.
The particular issues affecting this project, human action, habitat
protection and enrichment, irrigation and water affect wildlife in one way
or another the world over. Thus our collaboration between conservation
biologists, wildlife researchers, riverbasin managers, resource modelers,
social scientists and climate scientists is a pioneering effort at
understanding how climate affects wildlife and how we may use climate
information, seasonal climate prediciton, remote sensing,
GIS and GPS to assist management such as in targetting electric fencing,
strategic irrigation management, better land management, enrichment
of wild life zones and wildlife protection services.