Results from a CVM survey of willingness to pay for the conservation of the Asian elephant of a sample of urban residents in three selected housing schemes in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, are reported. Face– to–face surveys were conducted using an interview schedule. A non-linear logit regression model was constructed to analyse the respondents’ responses for the payment principle questions and to identify the factors that influence their responses. We investigate whether urban residents’ WTP for the conservation of elephants is sufficient to compensate farmers for the damage caused by elephants, and consequently to raise farmers’ tolerance of the presence of elephants on the farming fields. We find that beneficiaries (the urban residents) could compensate losers (the farmers in the HEC affected areas) and be better off than in the absence of elephants in Sri Lanka. This suggests that there is a strong economic case for the conservation of the wild elephant population in Sri Lanka. However, we have insufficient data to determine Sri Lanka’s optimal elephant population in the Kaldor-Hicks sense.