As a result of the illegal clearing of forest lands near the Nakolagane, Ehetuwewa, in Kurunegala District, environmentalists yesterday expressed severe concerns over a potential increase in human-elephant conflict in this area in near future.
The clearing of forest land continued without any hindrances despite the issues surrounding clearing of forest land in this area repeatedly came to light in recent times.
Environmentalists complain that the issue has not been addressed and attribute the illegal clearing to the support of powerful people and certain authorities.
Over 5,400 acres of forest land and nearby cultivated land are being cleared in a most recent attempt, according to environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara, who noted that the unlawful clearance has been going on for a while. These areas are then being given to business ventures for lease.
According to him, commercial crops are being grown in the forest area next to the Nakolagane Purana Raja Maha Vihara Temple, and other types of constructions that obstruct elephant pathways are being built.
The Palukadawala Reservoir, which belongs to the temple and is a crucial water source for elephants in the area, is also under danger, according to Mr. Chamikara.
“Elephant sightings in the vicinity of Nakolagane Rajamaha Vihara temple forest lands used to be quite uncommon, but they are now fairly common, which is highly inconveniencing both humans and elephants,” according to Mr. Chamikara.
Elephants typically congregate in this location in the months of July, August, and September, but due to recently installed electric fences, their movement has been restricted, Mr. Chamikara said adding that this has in turn caused elephants to loiter in nearby places, which has resulted in disputes between humans and elephants.