We came across the tusker Revatha twice, once on July 30th picture below, and then again on August 16thafter he had defeated Deegadanthu 1 in battle, so then what?
What is the story? The story is real, Elephants living in Sri Lanka, live on borrowed time, as the Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) is a continuous threat, especially dangerous for single male adult elephants and Tuskers who roam on their own, outside of herds that are protected by matriarchs who strive to avoid places of human habitation to protect their young, who are less likely to navigate their way through cultivations. To date HEC is NOT managed satisfactorily.
As if that was not a constant threat they have to deal with their natural instincts for procreation rights, so that the stronger gene pools survive and continue for future generations in order to ensure the survival of the species, a very natural means of selection of the strongest and hardiest to carry the genes into the future.
We follow Tuskers in Sri Lanka, as they stand out from the herd, and are beautiful to be photographed. The feeling of being close to these creatures is like none other to those hooked on Tusker sightings.
Kalawewa being the natural home of a high concentration of Tuskers, draws many repeat photographers and elephant lovers to see these gentle giants at play on the grass plains, during the season when the waters of the lake are down after cultivation, and before the return of the annual rains, which result in a migration into the forests, when the water level rises and the grass plains are submerged.
So when you hear of a known Tusker succumbing to injuries suffered in a fight with another Tusker, then another one bites the dust and there are so few in the pipeline to replace the lost ones. In the animal kingdom fights to the death are not uncommon, but when it happens to a dwindling number of tuskers in Sri Lanka, the outpouring of grief is due to the numbness we feel inside of us, as if a close family member has died. This past week with the demise of Deegadanthu 1 a tusker with long tusks, those who live on the periphery like Ali Ananda, who for the past 35 years has taken Tusker Lovers to see their objects of desire, how must he be feeling now? It is not just a livelihood, Deega is one he has seen, and in this particular instance cared for recently, by physically administering to his wounds, possibly caused by an earlier fight, while sedated by a Wildlife Department Veterinarian. It is he who takes the team of veterinarians to the subject once he locates the whereabouts.
These are personal stories of people who are close to these animals, who see the scars both of buckshot from being shot pellets by farmers and wounds from fights with other giants, usually for the procreation rights of females in Oestrous/Estrous cycle.
We normally and these days frequently hear of the deaths of Tuskers less for tusks, but more falling victim to farmers guns, trap guns and other explosive devices designed to maim and starve, just as other regular elephants also suffer. Farmers try to protect their crops and do not segregate Tuskers from the regular elephants in making their decisions to hit back when encroached.
It is time we don’t just throw our hands in the air, and shrug our shoulders, but instead take action now to study the issue to ensure the survival of tuskers into the future, by preserving the gene pool, enabling an environment where procreation possibilities are increased, and the likelihood of tuskers mating, as compared with others increase, as even Tuskers only result in a fraction of new births being tuskers and so further study, research, resources and methodology approved and initiated. I cannot see any of this in the horizon, for Tuskers per se, whereas on my last visit to Kalawewa the numbers of babies were heartening.