In countries with limited land area and high population density of elephants as Sri Lanka, the human-elephant conflict is a burning issue. As a result of these struggles, not only human lives that had suffered, but also the elephants. In the past year, reports indicate that many people were killed due to elephant attacks in Sri Lanka. These human deaths are usually followed by killing elephants by the locals due to vengeance and had caused many elephants to lose their lives in 2020, making Sri Lanka at the zenith in ranking elephant deaths due human-elephant conflict in the world.
Wild Elephant today will bring you a typical example of human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka. The video will also demonstrate struggles the wildlife authorities encounter when attempting to solve or at least mitigate the issue.
This elephant, locally known as “Niyapotta”, meaning “Finger-nail” in Sinhala is so-called since one nail of this elephant had overgrown significantly making his footprints to have the impression of this overgrown nail. This nail, therefore, helps the locals and the wildlife officers to track down the elephant.
The speciality of Niyapotta is because of his brutal nature. He was a known culprit for about seven human lives, including the life of a nine-year-old girl. Therefore, the capture and relocation of this elephant was a top priority to the department of wildlife. However, capturing and relocating Niyapotta had not been easy since four other elephants guarded him. Because of these guards, it had been difficult for the wildlife officers to sedate the giant for the relocation. This is an unexpected phenomenon that was observed, and the wildlife authorities had several futile missions in capturing the beast. In one of those missions in January 2020, a wildlife officer was attacked brutally by Niyapotta causing fatal injuries to this officer adding another human death to the human-kills list by this giant.
This elephant was finally caught in Thambuttegama in Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka, and relocated to the Horowpathana Elephant Detention Centre until he been relocated in a suitable national park away from the reach of humans. The relocating process of wild elephants is done in a specific manner, explained in several wild elephant videos. Do check them out if you like to know more about relocating elephants in Sri Lanka.