Four baby elephants perish in Sri Lanka floods

Source : AFP
Last Updated: Mon, Jan 17, 2011 13:20 hrs

At least four baby elephants perished in Sri Lanka's devastating floods which killed 40 people and left a million villagers displaced, an official said on Monday.

Wildlife Conservation director Chandrawansa Pathiraja said the four elephants drowned in the north-central and eastern regions, which were the worst affected after unusually heavy monsoon rains last week.

In the north-central region of Habarana, the carcass of a drowned baby elephant was found last week in a 15-foot (five-metre) tree that had been submerged by the flood waters.

"We also found that several wild buffaloes were marooned atop rocky terrain and we sent food for them by boat," Pathiraja said.

About 30 kilometres (18 miles) of electric fences used to keep elephants from straying into villages were destroyed by the floods.

Elephants are considered sacred animals in Sri Lanka, but they increasingly clash with farmers as habitat becomes scarce.

At least 100 elephants are killed on the island each year, mostly by farmers, while marauding elephants raiding villages also claim the lives of about 50 people annually.

Sri Lanka's elephant population has dwindled to about 4,000 from about 12,000 estimated in 1900.