Seeing how forcing elephants to share their natural habitats with humans rarely ends well for both of the parties involved, Sri Lanka has recently decided that perhaps it would be best to relocate several such animals.Their goal was that of making sure the elephants and local human communities were kept well apart, something that would have in turn translated into less conflicts taking place.
Interestingly enough, a new study concerning what happened after these elephants were relocated went to show that, despite the best of intentions, trying to force elephants to adapt to new living conditions only ups their aggressiveness and leads to their killing more people than they normally would have.
The specialists who looked into this issue explain that, once they found themselves in their new homes, the elephants experienced a strong need to wander off, and did not shy away from attacking some of the humans they happened to come across.
Live Science explains that, out of 12 male elephants fitted with GPS-collars and relocated in Sri Lanka, 10 decided to go for a stroll before spending at least one year in their new home.
During this time, these wandering elephants killed five people, and seven of them were in turn killed by locals.
By contrast, the 12 male elephants that were allowed to remain in their natural habitats and which doubled as a control group did not kill anybody, and only two of them got shot by people living nearby.
“We were stunned that translocation neither solves the conflict nor saves elephants,” a research scientist presently working with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute commented with respect to these findings.
“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. But you also understand that elephants represent a serious threat to humans and their livelihood,” Peter Leimgruber went on to add.
Roughly 70 people and 200 Asian elephants die in Sri Lanka on a yearly basis as a result of these two species getting tangled in various conflicts over water sources and land, which is why a solution to this problem has to be found immediately.