Sri Lanka’s Department of Wildlife Conservation will conduct an island-wide elephant census this year after a decade to determine the exact number of the animals in the country, local media reported on Monday.

Secretary to the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation Bandula Harischandra said an elephant census was last conducted in 2011 and it was estimated that Sri Lanka had 5,179 tuskers, reports Xinhua news agency.

Sri Lanka last year recorded the highest annual elephant deaths and second-highest human fatalities in the world due to the human-elephant conflict, according to Sri Lanka’s Committee on Public Accounts (COPA).

According to COPA Chairman Tissa Vitharana, while the average number of elephant deaths due to the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka is 272 per year, 407 elephants had died during the past year.

While the average number of human deaths due to the human-elephant conflict is 85 per year, 122 people had died during the past year, Vitharana said.

Killing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is a criminal offence, but there have been regular reports of angry villagers poisoning or shooting them.

–IANS

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