Colombo, Jan 22 (EFE).- Animal rights activists protested in the Sri Lankan capital on Monday, urging the United Nations to help protect elephants in the island nation, where over 475 pachyderms died last year amid a human-wildlife conflict.

A dozen animal activists protested on Monday in front of the UN head office in Colombo.

“Last year, 478 wild elephants died because of the human and elephant conflict in Sri Lanka. This year, 17 have died thus far,” activist Palitha Wickramarathne told EFE.

The protesters called on the UN to mobilize support and resources to help the Sri Lankan government amid a rapid spike in deforestation and deterioration of the elephant’s natural habitat in the country.

Elephants venturing into villages in search of food have killed at least 150 people in 2023, Wickramarathne said.

“Collaborative efforts are crucial to implementing comprehensive conservation strategies, addressing habitat loss and fragmentation, (and) mitigating human-wildlife conflict,” the protesting activists stressed in a letter to the UN on Monday.

The elephant population increased to 7,000 in 2022 from 5,879 in 2011, according to government estimates.

However, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the pachyderm population has fallen almost 65 percent since the beginning of the 19th century.

The main reason for the elephant deaths is due to gunshots or electrocution, especially in agrarian districts of the country where the pachyderms are seen as pests that destroy crops.

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) reported 50 wild elephant deaths from electrocution in 2023.

Last week, the CEB launched a hotline to seek information from the public about illegal fences directly connected to power lines. EFE

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