By Ria Novosti
A nationwide census of elephants began in Sri Lanka’s national parks this week, the country’s wildlife department said on Friday.
Sri Lankan Minister of Agrarian Services and Wild Life S.M. Chandrasena ceremonially launched the census despite protests of environmentalists who claim that the survey’s results may be used to extract healthy strong elephants to be domesticated for labor at Buddhist temples.
According to Sri Lankan authorities, the three-day census, on the contrary, aims to develop effective elephant protection programs.
Sri Lanka’s wild elephant population has dwindled in the recent years to about 4,000-6,000 elephants from 12,000 recorded in 1900s and the census is needed to get accurate figures.
The previous census was conducted in 1993 but failed to cover the island’s northern and eastern parts, which were under the control of the Tamil Tigers militant group. Only 2,000 elephants were counted then.