Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Farmers demand action on elephants
Farmers worry about rising elephant attacksProtesters in action
- ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
- Sri Lanka
- January 3, 2012
Forty-six people have been killed in the past few months, according to data compiled by the Wildlife Department, and 97 elephants have been shot and killed.
About 500 farmers gathered to demonstrate late last month to demand that the government address the issue.
During the event, organized by the Alliance for Promoting the Co-Existence of Elephants and Humans, farmers said that rampant clear-cutting of forests and increased human settlements have forced elephants to raid plantations for food.
âElephants have killed many of my neighbors,â said Menu Surammika, 37, a farmer from Kalahagala.
âWe have made a number of complaints to authorities but they have remained silent.â
He added that the threat posed by elephants has endangered his and othersâ livelihoods.
âWe do hard work to get a good harvest, but we canât fulfill our dreams due to wild elephants.â
Surammika blamed a lack of coordination between various ministries responsible for wildlife and the environment for the perilous situation faced by farmers.
âThe authorities could learn much more about how to tackle [this problem]. Electric fences are not enough to keep the elephants within their territory, and some fences are often neglected,â he said.
In the absence of effective official methods, farmers say they have resorted to traditional methods of shooing away the elephants, including fire crackers, guns, drums and the digging of trenches to protect paddy fields and other crops.
Ten farming representatives from 15 districts submitted a petition to the Wildlife Department during last monthâs demonstration in which they proposed elephant-friendly solutions.
âThe government should find ways âŚ to solve this man-elephant conflict, particularly during the dry season, when elephants rampage through villages in search of water and food,â said Ranjith Jayakody, secretary of the Irudeniyaya Farmersâ Organization in Kurunegala.
âWe proposed to the [wildlife] minister that he increase the number of elephant-friendly forests to stop them entering the farming villages.â
He added that farmers have also asked for compensation for farmers who have already sustained crop damage or loss.
Sri Lanka is home to nearly 6,000 elephants, according to a government survey conducted last year.
Nimal Ranjan, an environmental activist, said the principal cause for friction between people and elephants is the growing human population and limited space available for the elephants.
"The human population is increasing, the forest is decreasing," saidÂ Ranjan. "The government should take steps to prevent people from encroaching into areas where elephants live in large numbers, and these areas have to be protected."
SM Chandrasena, minister of agrarian services and wildlife, has said that the government would allocate 10 million rupees (US$100,000) to solve the problem of elephant attacks.
"We will promote an insurance scheme for farmers who are in conflicted areas due to elephant attacks,â he said.
âWe receive 25 percent contribution for insurance, and the balance will be paid by the government, Chandrasena said.