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Last updated: 01 December, 2010 - Published 17:03 GMT
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Mullaitivu wildlife sanctuary

The Sri Lankan government is turning a vast area of jungle that was the base for the separatist Tamil Tiger rebel movement into a wildlife sanctuary. It said the former war zone, spread over forty-thousand hectares in the north of Sri Lanka, will be used for wildlife conservation.

The jungles of Mullaitivu were at the heart of the Tamil Tiger insurgency. For decades it was home to key rebel bases and was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting during the final stages of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war. But eighteen months after government forces finally defeated the rebels, the area has been declared a wildlife sanctuary.

A government statement said it would be used to help Sri Lanka's elephant population which has dwindled over the last century from fifteen-thousand in 1900, to just four-thousand today. As deforestation destroys their natural habitats, the elephants venture out in search of food.

The government say more than two-hundred of them were killed last year, electrocuted or shot by villagers in an entirely different sort of conflict.

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