A potentially dangerous situation is developing in Sri Lanka's Yala National Park21/01/2013 10:55:17 Please don't feed the elephants - Written by Srilal Miththapala
January 2013. There is a serious situation developing in Sri Lanka's Yala National Par, due to a particular adult male elephant becoming too acclimatized to tourist jeeps and interacting with the visitors closely.
Do's and don'ts for visitors to Yala National Park, which could in some way help mitigate this problem.
The situation has reached a very critical point, where Gemunu now is bold enough to walk right up to a jeep and put his trunk completely in to the jeep, searching for food items. In fact, last week when I was in Yala, I saw him putting his entire head into a jeep; thankfully there were only two guests in the jeep and they managed to squeeze to the other side while he rummaged around the jeep, took out a knapsack and destroyed it. These guests were extremely traumatized by this experience.
While this certainly provides a once- in- a life-time exciting experience, it could very easily turn into a serious incident.
The only way to stop this is by gradually ‘teaching' Gemunu that coming and searching the jeeps for food will not yield any success. There is no other way he can be constrained.
My concern is that if a serious incident were to occur, it will reflect very badly on Sri Lanka, and Yala in particular. The response from the Wildlife Department would then be to tranquillize the elephant and translocate it to another location. As many of you know, this is only ‘changing the pillow for the headache,' and often results in disaster for the elephant.
There used to be a similar wild elephant on the Minneriya road near the temple, who could also be fed by passes-by. He was translocated a few years ago by the Wildlife Department, and met gruesome death, shot by villagers.