Colombo, Sep 30 (IANS) A joint team comprising officials from Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department, Army and the police on Monday launched a massive probe in the Habarana Forest Reserve after the carcasses of seven elephants were found over the weekend.
Department officials said the probe would also extend into the surrounding areas to see if any more animals had fallen prey to these mysterious deaths, reports Xinhua news agency.
The dead elephants included one pregnant tusker.
Wildlife officers suspect that the elephants might have died after they were injected with some kind of poison.
However, further investigations were being carried out to ascertain the exact cause of deaths.
State Minister of Tourism Development and Wildlife Ranjith Aluvihare carried out an inspection tour of the area on Sunday and said the government would take full responsibility for the deaths.
The Sri Lankan government has said that the death toll from human-elephant conflict hit a record high with over 375 people killed by wild elephants and over 1,100 tuskers killed by humans within the last five years.
Official records show the population of wild elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated at 7,500.
Killing wild elephants in Sri Lanka is an offence punishable by death, but there have been reports of villagers poisoning or shooting them.