Elephant Relocation Fails In Sri Lanka; Does Not Prevent More Deaths

By Amir Khan on December 10, 2012 11:22 AM EST

Elephant
Elephant relocation does not result in any fewer deaths (Photo: Flickr.com/brittanyhock)

The elephant relocation plan that was supposed to save the lives of both humans and elephants in Sri Lanka has failed, according to a new study. The elephant relocation, which would have moved the pachyderms away from humans, did not result in any less deaths of humans or elephants.

By relocating the elephants, experts hoped to reduce human-elephant interaction. However, instead of staying put, the elephants often wandered. Researchers found that relocated elephants died more often than non-relocated elephants, and also found that relocated elephants killed more humans as well.

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"We were stunned that translocation neither solves the conflict nor saves elephants," Peter Leimgruber, study author and a research scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, said, according to Yahoo! News.

In Sri Lanka, approximately 70 people and 200 elephants die every year as a result of human-elephant interaction, and a common solution is to move the elephants to protected land. However, a new study revealed that the elephant relocation failed, and did not result in any fewer deaths.

There are only 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, making minimizing their deaths a priority, researchers said. However, many elephants pose serious threats to humans as well, meaning a balance must be struck in the human-elephant conflict.

"As you track the elephants, you identify with these animals, you see their struggles and understand why they're doing the things that ultimately get them killed," Leimgruber said. "But you also understand that elephants represent a serious threat to humans and their livelihood."

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