Sri Lanka: Where People Need Elephants and Elephants Need People

Until 2011, no comprehensive scientific census had been carried out to record the number of wild elephants in Sri Lanka. Too much reliance had been placed on “educated guesses” that ranged from as many as 13,000 at the end of the 19th Century to some as ridiculously low as 1,500 in the early 1950s. Even in 2011, the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) could only make a reasoned estimate that there were 6,000 wild elephants in the country. This, too, may have been an under-estimation as, at that time, forests in the North and East could not be surveyed. Since then, the rate of attrition of this endangered species has been such that any revision in number would have to be below this figure.

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