Elephants are a keystone species and the Asian Elephant (Elephus Maximus) has been listed as endangered by IUCN. With the highest Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) in the world and ever shrinking wildlife habitat, the Sri Lankan elephant is under severe threat. The human elephant conflict (HEC) is the biggest threat to their survival. In 2019 alone, over 400 elephants and 100 humans were killed as a direct result of the HEC.
The best way to help conserve elephants in the wild, is to ensure their grazing grounds are protected and well maintained within Protected Areas such as Minneriya and other National Parks.
The biggest issue facing the elephants at Minneriya National Park is the threat of the alien invasive plant species (AIS) named ‘Agada’ (Xanthium indicum– Common Cocklebur) which is rapidly taking over the tank beds of the Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks, which are the primary feeding grounds of the elephants.
It is estimated that over 20% of the Minneriya tank bed has already been taken over by ‘Agada’ and it is rapidly spreading across the grasslands of both the Minneriya and Kaudulla reservoirs. This extensive loss of the grasslands not only poses a serious threat to the primary grazing grounds of the elephants, it will also result in increased human – elephant conflict (HEC) in the area as well as pose a serious threat to the annual wildlife event which draws thousands to Minneriya – The Elephant Gathering – the largest seasonal congregation of Asian elephants in the world.
‘Project Agada’, aims to eliminate an Alien Invasive Species (AIS) ‘Agada’ (Xanthium indicum– Common Cocklebur) from taking over the lakebeds of the Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks. Rapid response in preventing seed dispersal is critical in controlling the spread of any alien invasive species, and hence urgent action is needed to reverse the process of the loss of grasslands at Minneriya & Kaudulla. The problem is aggravated by the fact that the Agada is toxic to herbivores, and thus not a suitable alternative fodder. In the long term, a well-known negative impact of alien invasive species of any type are irreversible changes to the biodiversity of the host eco-system, in this case the Minneriya and other tank beds and surrounding eco-systems, central to the survival of wildlife, as well as for the irrigation system which feeds the primary agricultural regions of Sri Lanka.
'Project Agada' also intends to positively impact those, living close to the Parks, who have lost their sources of income due to the COVID19 induced downturn in tourism, by employing them in the plant removal process. We think this is a great way to engage the local community in involving them in a conservation project as they are hugely dependent on wildlife tourism.
The total budget is currently estimated at LKR 3 million for clearing the AIS from 200 hectares (approx. 460 acres) of the Minneriya & Kaudulla tank beds. We urge you to donate however you can, towards this worthy cause which will directly help protect the elephants of Minneriya & Kaudulla.
|Equipment and Fuel
|Transport of labour and Agada to disposal site :
We, the Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO), are a non‐political, non-partisan organization that provides a platform for connecting interest groups with a patriotic interest in safeguarding Sri Lanka’s natural heritage through conservation and advocacy. Founded by a group of concerned professionals and environmentalists in 2012, FEO is administered by a Board of Trustees whose shared vision is the better protection for Sri Lanka’s incredibly rich biodiversity.
We lobby for policy change and its implementation in conservation, as well as promote environmentally friendly projects like tree-planting etc. The Nature Interpretation Programs (NIP) conducted for safari jeep drivers in the Minneriya, Kaudulla, and Wilpattu NPs has successfully trained over 1,500 safari jeep drivers in responsible wildlife tourism.
The project is scheduled to kick off in July 2020 and will be carried out in a phased approach for optimal AIS removal at the tail-end of the wet season each year, for a period of 3 years, or such time that ‘Agada’ no longer poses any threat to the grasslands of Minneriya & Kaudulla.
Rohan Wijesinha – Chairperson
Yohan Weerasuriya – Deputy-Chair
Jehan CanagaRetna – Treasurer
Contact details for further inquiries
The Federation of Environmental Organizations
49 Fife Road, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka
+94 (0) 77 310 4859