While stadium operators may often consider the dangers of fans entering the field of play, officials at Hambantota Stadium in Sri Lanka are taking steps to prevent elephants from straying onto the pitch during the country’s forthcoming ODI cricket series with Zimbabwe.
Game wardens will be on hand to deter the residents of the nearby elephant sanctuary from trespassing at the 35,000-capacity stadium.
The stadium was built in 2009, in an area of Sri Lanka badly affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, but has hosted only a handful of matches because of its remote location and high maintenance costs.
One official told the AFP news agency that a herd of about 25 elephants roam in the area and are a potential threat to fans.
“There had been a few instances when elephants broke through the fence and invaded the pitch at night,” an official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
“A jungle patch starts about 100 metres from the stadium and we are deploying 10 wardens to make sure that fans don’t stray into that area and provoke the elephants.”
It is not the first time that wildlife has disrupted games at Hambantota, as swarms of wasps that have taken up residence there have also caused problems.