Wildlife and Human coexistence: Sri Lanka

Human-wildlife conflict is pervasive around the world. As human populations continue to grow there is a need to find a balance between wildlife conservation and human well-being. This project is in collaborating with the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society and aims to further understand how species populations are interacting and utilising human-dominated landscapes. Understanding animals movements can facilitate improved management and welfare outcomes for wildlife and humans alike.

We are currently investigating elephant movements on the interface of human-dominated and natural landscapes. We are using camera trapping to understand the frequency and timing of elephant movements into and out-of human dominated landscapes. A dominant area of conflict is elephant crop raiding, and many studies report seasonal shifts and timings of crop raiding events; however, there is limited data investigating elephant movements. Do elephants spend time in human-dominanted landscapes without impacting crops? Are crop-raiding events driven by particular environmental conditions (i.e. associated with moon phase?). We seek to investigate these questions through this movement data.

In addition to elephants we are also investigating mesocarnivore populations. Sri Lanka had an intact and complex mesocarnivore community. Little is known about interspecific competition or how habitat use may differ between this community and the role of human landscapes within their activity. We predict human-dominated landscapes will favour some species and result in a shift in mesocarnivore communities. In natural landscape we suspect mesocarnivores will be more diverse, and this diversity will be habitat-mediated.