Elephant crushes scholar to death in Sri Lanka

Updated 21 Jul 2020

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Elephant attacks in Sri Lanka’s remote regions are not uncommon. — File photo
Elephant attacks in Sri Lanka’s remote regions are not uncommon. — File photo

COLOMBO: A young university scholar has become the latest victim of a deadly wild elephant attack in Sri Lanka, officials said on Monday, after a growing spate of similar incidents across the island nation.

The 32-year-old was returning to her hostel at the University of Jaffna on Sunday when she was trampled.

“She was with another friend who managed to escape the attack,” a local police officer said.

“Wildlife authorities have tried to track down the elephant, but with no luck.” She sustained multiple head injuries and died in hospital on Monday, officials added.

Elephant attacks in Sri Lanka’s remote regions are not uncommon.

But Sunday’s encounter was in a populated area in the northern town of Kilinochchi, where there had been no previous incidents.

A total of 121 people were killed by elephants across the country last year, up from 96 the year before, according to government data. A record 405 elephants were also killed by humans last year.

“The trend is getting worse. Both sides are suffering, but elephants take a disproportionate number of fatalities compared to their population,” said Jayantha Jayewardene, Sri Lanka’s top elephant expert.

The country’s elephant population has declined to just over 7,000 according to the latest census, down from an estimated 12,000 in the early 1900s.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2020