COLOMBO, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from Sri Lanka's human-elephant conflict has hit a record high with over 375 people killed by wild elephants and over 1,100 elephants killed by humans within the last five years, cabinet spokesperson Gayantha Karunathilleke said on Thursday.
In a local media report, Karunathilleke said in order to find a solution to the bitter battle, the government had decided to extend electric fences near national parks and vulnerable villages as part of a new drive to protect people and wild elephants.
The minister added that the government would also increase the length of electric fences by over 50 percent and also upgrade the existing protective fencing to ensure that marauding elephants did not raid villages for food and water.
He explained that these fences would repel elephants and prevent them from entering villages and would not seriously harm them.
The announcement came two days after President Maithripala Sirisena called for urgent action, saying elephants were straying into human habitat and were also destroying crops in addition to inflicting a heavy toll on humans.
Sirisena said wildlife, including elephants, destroyed about 35 percent of the country's agricultural produce.
Elephants in Sri Lanka are protected by law. Killing wild elephants is an offence punishable by death, but there have been regular reports of angry villagers poisoning or shooting them.
Official records show the population of wild elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated at 7,500.