A collaborative project between International Research Institute for Climate Prediction , Center for Environmental Research and Conservation , Center for International Earth Science Information Network and Wildlife Trust .

Elephant (Elephas maximus)   A pen sketch by Prithiviraj Fernando (Co-PI)

"Thakshila" from Uda Walawe in South-Eastern Sri Lanka is the matriarch of a bond group of about 20 animals.  She is very aggressive and more often than not will greet you with a 'mock charge'.

Asian Elephants numbering about 40,000 are an endangered species. Anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 of these elephants are in Sri Lanka. Due to population pressures on elephant habitat, there is a severe toll both on elephants and rural communities from Human-Elephant Conflict. This conflict is at the heart of environmental conflict, regulation and protection in rural areas. Both Human and Elephant behaviour in the conflict zone are affected by the climate. Climate affects water availability, vegetation, agricultural practices and irrigation. All of these factors could under conditions (such as drought, certain patterns of irrigation or agriculture) lead to conflict and competition. The number of elephants killed each year according to the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation has been reported as

1990                        -                        49

1991                        -                        59

1992                        -                        90

1993                        -                        103

1994                        -                        113

1995                        -                        94

1996                        -                        130

1997                        -                        164

1998                        -                        148

1999                        -                        107

2000                        -                        150

2001                        -                        162

Total                        -                        1369

These figures mean that the elephant population will not last in Sri Lanka for more than a few decades unless there is improved management. There are many tales of woe on the human side as well.

The particular issues affecting this project, human action, habitat protection and enrichment, irrigation and water affect wildlife in one way or another the world over. Thus our collaboration between conservation biologists, wildlife researchers, riverbasin managers, resource modelers, social scientists and climate scientists is a pioneering effort at understanding how climate affects wildlife and how we may use climate information, seasonal climate prediciton, remote sensing, GIS and GPS to assist management such as in targetting electric fencing, strategic irrigation management, better land management, enrichment of wild life zones and wildlife protection services.