Wildlife Damage, Insurance/Compensation for Farmers and Conservation: Sri Lankan Elephants as a Case
The interference with agriculture has been recognised as the main cause for the current conflict between farmers and wild elephants in Sri Lanka, as elsewhere in the Asian elephant range. Thus compensating farmers for the damages caused by elephants is essential, if this endangered species is to survive in the long run. This paper explores the practicality of establishing an improved publicly funded insurance/compensation scheme to recompense farmers for the elephant damages. It does so by analysing results from two contingent valuation surveys undertaken in Sri Lanka. We find that possible public support of farmers plus urban dwellers significantly exceeds the financial requirement of the insurance scheme proposed in this study for perpetuity. The article also shows that it is often inappropriate from an economic viewpoint to analyse crop insurance as if it only involves the insurance of a private good because important positive externalities can arise from ‘crop’ damages by wildlife, e.g. elephants. The use of agricultural land by some species is essential for their long-term survival and this is often positively valued by the community as a whole
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