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Does The Economic Value Of The Asian Elephant To Urban Dwellers Exceed Their Cost To The Farmers? A Sri Lankan Study

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Urban dwellers and farmers in the areas affected by human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka are often in discord about the conservation of wild elephant in Sri Lanka. The urban dwellers regard this species as a valued resource but farmers in these areas consider it as an agricultural pest that interferes with their farming practices. This dual character of the elephant as both an agricultural pest and an economic asset reflects a difficulty in classifying it as a pest or as a resource. However, it seems that compensating farmers for the damages caused by elephants is essential, if this endangered species is to survive in the long run. This paper uses the results from contingent valuation survey of a sample of urban residents in Colombo in order to examines whether the urban dwellers' willingness to pay for the conservation of elephants is sufficient to compensate farmers for the damage caused by elephants and to raise farmers' tolerance of the present elephants on their farming fields. We find that the annual return for the total extrapolated WTP of urban residents (Rs. 2012.43 million) in Sri Lanka is nearly twice the extent of crop and property damage caused to farmers by elephants (Rs. (Rs.1121.42 million) per annum. This indicates that the policy of compensating farmers by urban dwellers for elephant damage so the farmers will tolerate elephants on their farming fields might be viable. Furthermore, this also suggests that there is a strong economic case for the conservation of the wild elephant population in Sri Lanka, at least at their current population level.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 325.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:325

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