Uga Ulagalla launches its first-ever community-based fencing project helping mitigate human-elephant conflict
Uga Ulagalla, the pristine 58-acre property nestled in Thirappane, Anuradhapura, renowned for its unspoiled cultural allure, has partnered with the Center for Conservation and Research (CCR) to launch its first-ever community-based village fencing project in Pittala Konderama and Karambe. The initiative aims to mitigate human-elephant conflicts (HEC) in the area.
The inauguration of the project was graced by distinguished guests, including Managing Director – Priyanjith Weerasooria, Chief Executive Officer – Ramli Ghafoor, General Manager – Thasinthan Panchanathan, Chairman of CCR – Dr Prithviraj Fernando, and Head Naturalist – Katharina Raaben, along with the village community.
Commenting on the project Managing Director, Priyanjith Weerasooria said, “We embarked on this project with the objective of providing a safe haven for the village community while also addressing the issue of human-elephant conflicts. Sustainability has always been a key consideration for us at Uga, as we strive to make a positive impact on our nation. By donating a solar-powered fence, we were able to offer a practical solution that benefits both humans and elephants. What began as a simple initiative to protect the villages from elephant intrusions has now evolved into a full-fledged program.”
In July of last year, the Elephant Research Centre (ERC) was established at Uga Ulagalla, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing fight against the human-elephant conflict (HEC) that has resulted in the loss of both human and elephant lives. The ERC owes much of its success to the invaluable contributions of Dr Prithviraj Fernando, a renowned expert in elephant conservation and management and Chairman of the Centre for Conservation and Research Sri Lanka. Dr Fernando’s vast expertise has been instrumental in enabling the ERC to gain a deep understanding of the elephants’ behavioural patterns in the area. Thanks to the ERC’s initiatives, which have been guided by Dr Fernando’s insights and led by the head naturalist of Uga Ulagalla Katharina and her team, there have been significant strides in mitigating the human-elephant conflict, bringing much-needed respite to both humans and elephants alike.
The North-Central Province of Sri Lanka is renowned for having the highest concentration of agricultural areas in the country. It is also home to the largest population of elephants that wander outside the boundaries of national parks, leading to a severe human-elephant conflict (HEC). According to recent statistics, 2022 saw a record number of HEC incidents resulting in 433 elephants and 145 human fatalities across Sri Lanka, with the district of Anuradhapura being the most affected. The Wildlife Department revealed that 37 human lives were lost, and at least 90 elephants were killed in Anuradhapura, making it the hardest-hit area in the country.
Despite previous efforts to mitigate human-elephant conflict, the issue has persisted in Sri Lanka. However, this new innovative solution emerged in the form of a community-based village fencing project that enables peaceful coexistence between elephants and villagers.
Uga is a fully-owned subsidiary of Finco Holdings. Uga comprises of Uga Ulagalla in Anuradhapura, Uga Jungle Beach in Trincomalee, Uga Bay in Passikudah, Uga Chena Huts in Yala and Uga Residence in Colombo. Uga operates as a homegrown luxury brand that is committed to preserving natural splendour and indigenous culture whilst providing a unique accommodation experience.